(Jewish Link) New York State Judge Lynn Kotler ruled this week that Yeshiva University is legally required to grant the YU Pride Alliance status as an official club on campus. The June 14 ruling on the case, which was brought by former YU students in 2021, will be appealed by the university.
Yeshiva University made the following statement. “The court’s ruling violates the religious liberty upon which this country was founded. The decision permits courts to interfere in the internal affairs of religious schools, hospitals, and other charitable organizations. Any ruling that Yeshiva is not religious is obviously wrong. As our name indicates, Yeshiva University was founded to instill Torah values in its students while providing a stellar education, allowing them to live with religious conviction as noble citizens and committed Jews. While we love and care for our students, who are all – each and every one - created in God’s image, we firmly disagree with today’s ruling and will immediately appeal the decision.”
YU has retained the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, a non-profit, public interest law firm, to represent them in this matter. Becket, which focuses on representing clients’ freedom of all religious faiths, previously represented Hobby Lobby in its fight to exempt themselves from funding or supplying drugs and devices to assist with abortive measures.
The lawsuit focused on whether Yeshiva University is a religious corporation under state civil rights code, and examined the language in the law as well as the legislative intent. The defense counsel argued, “Yeshiva is either a religious institution in all manners or it is not. Yeshiva’s decision to amend its charter in 1967 and otherwise hold itself out as non-sectarian since then must be accorded,” thereby concluding that, because it has not self-identified as a “religious corporation,” YU bound itself to the NYCHRL’s antidiscrimination mandates. “The record shows that the purpose students attend Yeshiva is to obtain an education, not for religious worship or some other function which is religious at its core. Thus, religion is necessarily secondary to education at Yeshiva.”