Photo Credit: Public Domain / Collection of the Supreme Court of the United States, Steve Petteway
Official Portrait of Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor

Supreme Court Justice Sonia Sotomayor ruled Friday (Sept. 9) that Yeshiva University can continue to live out its religious mission without threat of government interference.

Sotomayor, who has jurisdiction over the lower court, wrote in her order that “the injunction of the New York trial court, case No. 154010/2021, is hereby stayed pending further order of the undersigned or of the Court.”

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Unless Sotomayor rules otherwise in a future order – or the Supreme Court decides to take up the case – her ruling means that Yeshiva University can disregard a state court ruling ordering the school to recognize an LGBTQ student club.

Yeshiva is the country’s most prominent Modern Orthodox Jewish institution of higher learning.

This past June, the lower court found the university was incorporated as an educational institution, rather than as a religious institution – and thus required to comply with New York City’s human rights law barring discrimination based on sexual preference.

After a struggle more than a year long, the university had asked the court in an appeal of the lower court ruling to vindicate its religious identity and First Amendment rights through an emergency application.

“We are pleased with Justice Sotomayor’s ruling which protects our religious liberty and identity as a leading faith-based academic institution,” said Rabbi Ari Berman, president of Yeshiva University.

“But make no mistake, we will continue to strive to create an environment that welcomes all students, including those of our LGBTQ community.

“We remain committed to engaging in meaningful dialogue with our students, Rabbis and faculty about how best to ensure an inclusive campus for all students in accordance with our Torah values.”

Nevertheless, “Yeshiva shouldn’t have been forced to go all the way to the Supreme Court to receive such a commonsense ruling in favor of its First Amendment rights,” said Eric Baxter, vice president and senior counsel at Becket, an organization dedicated to protecting freedom of religion.

“We are grateful that Justice Sotomayor stepped in to protect Yeshiva’s religious liberty in this case.”

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Hana Levi Julian is a Middle East news analyst with a degree in Mass Communication and Journalism from Southern Connecticut State University. A past columnist with The Jewish Press and senior editor at Arutz 7, Ms. Julian has written for Babble.com, Chabad.org and other media outlets, in addition to her years working in broadcast journalism.