By: Jonathan Levin  | 

Yeshiva University Requests Stay on Order to Recognize LGBTQ Club from Supreme Court

Yeshiva University filed an emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court Monday, asking the court to grant a stay on an earlier court’s decision that ordered YU to immediately recognize the Pride Alliance as an officially sanctioned club until its appeal to the New York State Appellate Division is decided. 

Coming a week after the lower court rejected YU’s appeal for a stay, YU is presenting its argument to the Supreme Court on grounds of its First Amendment rights to religious freedom.

“Yeshiva is now asking the Court to protect its religious mission from government interference,” a university press release stated. “In YU Pride Alliance v. Yeshiva University, a group of students are demanding that the University officially recognize an LGBTQ Pride Alliance club on campus. The lower court rulings would force Yeshiva to put its stamp of approval on a club and activities that are inconsistent with the school’s Torah values and the religious environment it seeks to maintain on its undergraduate campuses.”

YU is arguing that the lower court’s decision and statements about its religious identity were incorrect, and that university’s affiliation with Orthodox Judaism, its Jewish studies requirements and the tenants of Torah U’Madda mean that it is entitled to the religious freedom to “conduct its internal affairs in accordance with its religious beliefs.”

“Even though all undergraduate students are required to engage [in] intense religious studies,” the press release stated, “a New York Supreme Court judge held that the University is not sufficiently religious to enjoy constitutional and statutory protections for religious institutions, ordering Yeshiva to ‘immediately’ recognize the Pride Alliance club. Today, Yeshiva asked the United States Supreme Court for an emergency stay of that order pending appeal.”

Five of nine Supreme Court justices are required to grant a stay. 

In April 2021, after two years of failed attempts at getting the club recognized through the normal club process, a group of former and current students sued YU and university officials in the Supreme Court of the State of New York, demanding that the court order YU to recognize The Pride Alliance as an officially sanctioned club, which it did this June.

Yeshiva University was ordered by Judge Lynn Kotler to “immediately grant plaintiff YU Pride Alliance the full equal accommodations, advantages, facilities, and privileges afforded to all other student groups at Yeshiva University.”

Immediately following the ruling, YU appealed the decision, and requested a stay on the decision from the appellate division of the Supreme Court of the State of New York, which would allow it to not recognize the YU Pride Alliance as a club until the appeal was decided. YU’s stay was denied on August 23.

“The Torah guides everything that we do at Yeshiva—from how we educate students to how we run our dining halls to how we organize our campus,” said Ari Berman, president of Yeshiva University, in the press release. “We care deeply for and welcome all of our students, including our LGBTQ students, and continue to be engaged in a productive dialogue with our Rabbis, faculty and students on how we apply our Torah values to create an inclusive campus environment. We only ask the government to allow us the freedom to apply the Torah in accordance with our values.”

Yeshiva University has had a case heard by the Supreme Court before. In National Labor Relations v. Yeshiva University, decided in 1980, the court ruled 5–4 in favor of YU in a case regarding the Yeshiva University Faculty Association.

The YU Pride Alliance did not immediately respond to requests for comment.

Elishama Marmon contributed to this story

A link to the press release can be found here


Photo Caption: United States Supreme Court Building

Photo Credit: Adam Szuscik — Unsplash