Jewish university stands up for its religious values in court

The court's ruling forces the religious university to recognize LGBTQ student organizations.

The university argues that court failed to uphold its First Amendment rights as a private, religious university.

Yeshiva University (YU), a Jewish private school in New York, filed for an injunction with the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to pause the New York County Supreme Court’s ruling that would force the Jewish university to recognize LGBTQ clubs on campus. 

The June 14 filing reveals the private university is seeking an “emergency stay” to allow it to not recognize any proposed LGBTQ student groups until the New York State Appellate Division decides on YU’s appeal.  

“As a deeply religious Jewish university, Yeshiva cannot comply with that order because doing so would violate its sincere religious beliefs about how to form its undergraduate students in Torah values,” the appeal read. 

The state Supreme Court’s ruling was the culmination of an April 2021 lawsuit by the YU Pride Alliance, an LGBTQ student group looking to be recognized by the Jewish university. 

The group had requested official recognition from the school for several years since 2018 without success. 

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In her June decision, New York Supreme Court Judge Lynn Kolter stated that despite the university’s religious affiliation, its primary purpose is educational, not religious. 

“Yeshiva’s organizing documents do not expressly indicate that Yeshiva has a religious purpose. Rather, Yeshiva organized itself as an ‘educational corporation’ and for educational purposes, exclusively,” the judge wrote. 

Kolter was referring to YU’s charter that contained an amendment detailing that the university, “is hereby continued as an educational corporation under the Education Law of the State of New York.”

In the appeal, the university argues that despite the New York court “repeatedly” acknowledging “Yeshiva’s deeply religious nature,” the court failed to uphold YU’s First Amendment rights as a private, religious university. 

“This is an unprecedented intrusion into the autonomy of a religious organization and a gross violation of the First Amendment,” the appeal stated.

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The university initially appealed the June decision and requested an emergency injunction on the same day. Still, the injunction was denied on Aug. 23 without explanation and then denied again on Aug. 26 by the New York Appellate District court, according to the Aug. 29 appeal document. 

Campus Reform reached out to Yeshiva University, YU Pride Alliance, the Supreme Court, the New York Appellate District Court, and Judge Kolterfor comment and will update this article accordingly. 

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