People walk by the campus of Yeshiva University in New York City on Aug. 30. A Supreme Court ruling left in place a New York state court ruling requiring the university to recognize the YU Pride Alliance.
Spencer Platt/Getty Images
Yeshiva University in New York City will have to continue to recognize an LGBTQ student organization while the school argues its case against the group in state court, the U.S. Supreme Court has ruled.
The opinion Wednesday left in place a New York state court ruling requiring the university to recognize the YU Pride Alliance.
It also forces the university to exhaust at least two other legal avenues in New York before returning to the Supreme Court to make its case.
The opinion said Yeshiva University could come back to the nation’s highest court sooner if lower courts in New York failed to provide a quick resolution to the case or interim relief.
But four justices in the Supreme Court’s conservative bloc dissented with the majority opinion, claiming that New York was ignoring the religious rights of the Jewish school.
Yeshiva University, founded in 1886, describes itself as a “multifaceted institution that integrates the knowledge of Western civilization and the rich treasures of Jewish culture.”
Justice Samuel Alito wrote, “The First Amendment guarantees the right to the free exercise of religion, and if that provision means anything, it prohibits a State from enforcing its own preferred interpretation of Holy Scripture. Yet that is exactly what New York has done in this case, and it is disappointing that a majority of this Court refuses to provide relief.”
According to the court record, the YU Pride Alliance sued the university last year after the school refused to officially recognize the student group on the grounds that it conflicted with the school’s interpretation of the Torah.
A New York state trial court sided with the student group, ruling that Yeshiva University violated the New York City Human Rights Law, which prohibits discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and gender in public accommodations. A state appeals court later left that ruling in place.
Katie Rosenfeld, an attorney for the YU Pride Alliance, said the ruling was a victory for Yeshiva University students and praised the Supreme Court for sending the case back to state court.
“We are confident that we will continue to overcome the administration’s aggressive litigation strategies against its own LGBTQ+ students, who choose to attend Yeshiva University because they are committed to the school’s mission,” Rosenfeld said in a statement.
“At the end of the day, Yeshiva University students will have a club for peer support this year, and the sky is not going to fall down. No longer will students be denied a safe and supportive space on campus to be together,” she added.
Rabbi Ari Berman, president of Yeshiva University, said in a statement that the university would follow the Supreme Court’s instruction to return to state court.
“Every faith-based university in the country has the right to work with its students, including its LGBTQ students, to establish the clubs, places and spaces that fit within its faith tradition. Yeshiva University simply seeks that same right of self-determination,” Berman said.
“At the same time, as our commitment to and love for our LGBTQ students are unshakeable, we continue to extend our hand in invitation to work together to create a more inclusive campus life consistent with our Torah values,” he added.