Last week, YU Pride Alliance – the LGBT group seeking to force Yeshiva University to accord it full recognition as a campus group – agreed to a stay of the court order that would have required the university to recognize the group while the university appeals the ruling. The announcement came after YU suspended all campus groups, upending the group’s argument that by denying them official status they are treated differently than other student groups.
As has been widely reported, after the state court declined to issue a stay of judgment, YU sought one in the U.S. Supreme Court. Justice Sonia Sotomaor issued one temporarily, but also sent the question to the full court for consideration. By a 5-4 vote – including a yea vote from Justice Sotomayor – the Court vacated the temporary stay on technical grounds and sent the case back to the state courts for a reconsideration of YU’s previously denied stay requests.
Although some viewed this as a defeat for YU, the language of the majority’s order and Justice Alito’s dissent suggests quite the opposite.
The Court said:
The application [YU’s Supreme Court request for a stay] is denied because it appears applicants have at least two further avenues for expedited or interim state court relief … If applicants seek and receive neither expedited review nor interim relief from the New York courts, they may return to this Court [ie, the US Supreme Court].
This virtual roadmap and invitation is exceedingly rare, and it prompted some legal commentators to opine that the Court was sending a signal as to the potential favorable outcome for YU.
But it was the dissent from Justice Alito – who argued that there were no procedural irregularities – which drove the point home: “At least four of us [Justices] are likely to vote to grant certiorari [four votes are needed to get a case before the court] if Yeshiva’s First Amendment arguments are rejected on appeal, and Yeshiva would likely win if its case came before us.”
The state courts’ rejection of YU’s argument that it was entitled to follow its own interpretation of the Torah was shocking. It now looks, however, that sanity will soon prevail, one way or another.