Sunday, February 1, 2009

California Appellate Court Rules in Christian School's Favor

On January 26, the California Court of Appeal ruled in favor of a Christian school sued for "sexual orientation" discrimination.

The dispute arose when California Lutheran High School expelled two students for violating its code of conduct by engaging in a same-sex intimate relationship. The students' parents sued the school, claiming that it had committed discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation in violation of California's Unruh Act, which forbids discrimination on the basis of a variety of protected characteristics in "business establishments" (among other things).

California Lutheran argued that it, as a private religious school, was not a "business establishment." The trial court agreed, and the students' parents appealed. In its January 26 decision, the appellate court agreed that the school is not a business establishment. Because of this ruling, the court did not reach the religious liberty issues in the case.

The CLS Center attempted to intervene on behalf of the Association of Faith-Based Organizations (AFBO). The joint ADF-CLS press release is here.

More information about the case, including a link to the decision, is found on the relevant page of the CLS website. Congrats to my colleague Tim Tracey, who serves as lead counsel for AFBO in this case.