Yeshiva University Halts All Student Clubs to Block L.G.B.T.Q. Group

Yeshiva University abruptly announced on Friday that it had placed all undergraduate club activities on hold, the latest maneuver in the legal battle by the Modern Orthodox Jewish institution to keep from recognizing an L.G.B.T.Q. student group.

The move came two days after the U.S. Supreme Court had ordered the university to recognize the student group. In a 5 to 4 vote, the justices said the university would first have to make its arguments in New York State courts before returning to the Supreme Court.

“If applicants seek and receive neither expedited review nor interim relief from the New York courts, they may return to this court,” the Supreme Court order said.

Citing the upcoming Jewish holidays, the university sent out a terse, unsigned email at midafternoon on Friday that said it would “hold off on all undergraduate activities” while it planned its next steps to “follow the road map provided by the U.S. Supreme Court.”

The university did not say for how long the suspension would last or whether it would be revisited. When asked for comment, a spokesman for Yeshiva University referred back to a statement from Rabbi Ari Berman, the institution’s president, that was posted online on Thursday.

“Every faith-based university in the country has the right to work with its students, including its L.G.B.T.Q. students, to establish the clubs, places and spaces that fit within its faith tradition,” Mr. Berman said in the statement. “Yeshiva University simply seeks that same right of self-determination.”

A lawyer for the students, Katherine Rosenfeld, said in an email Friday that the move by the university was similar to discriminatory tactics used in the past against other minority groups. The move by Yeshiva “is a throwback to 50 years ago when the city of Jackson, Mississippi, closed all public swimming pools rather than comply with court orders to desegregate,” she said.

The case, which is being closely watched by religious organizations nationwide, pits New York’s anti-discrimination laws against the university’s arguments that it is adhering to its religious values.

The development on Friday was the latest in a clash dating back several years between the prominent Jewish institution of higher education and students seeking formal recognition for a club called Y.U. Pride Alliance.

University officials turned down the group, leading several students to sue in State Supreme Court in Manhattan under laws barring discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.

In June, the court ruled that the university would have to recognize the group because Yeshiva was incorporated as an educational institution and not a religious one. The university, decrying the decision as an attack on religious freedom, appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court.

On Sept. 9, Justice Sonia Sotomayor said the university could disregard the lower court ruling, as the case could be considered by the full Supreme Court. Earlier this week, however, the Supreme Court justices reversed course and instructed the university to adhere to the lower-court ruling while its appeals work their way through New York courts.

Justice Samuel A. Alito Jr., writing for the dissenters of the Supreme Court order, said that further challenges were pointless and that the majority had inflicted grave harm on the university’s right to religious freedom. Justices Clarence Thomas, Neil M. Gorsuch and Amy Coney Barrett supported Justice Alito’s dissent.

Chief Justice John G. Roberts Jr. and Justices Sonia Sotomayor, Elena Kagan, Brett M. Kavanaugh and Ketanji Brown Jackson voted in the majority.

Liam Stack contributed reporting.

Back to top button