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Supreme Court justice Sonia Sotomayor.Leigh Vogel / Getty Images

NEW YORK (LifeSiteNews) – The U.S. Supreme Court has temporarily blocked a lower-court ruling that would have forced a Jewish university in New York to formally recognize an LGBT student group, via an order issued by left-wing Justice Sonia Sotomayor.

Yeshiva University declares on its website that “our five core Torah values comprise our moral compass and guide us toward a better future,” and that the school is “[r]ooted in Jewish thought and tradition,” with one of its “foundations” being “the importance of enriching and enhancing Jewish life and growth both on our campuses and in the Jewish community at large.”

Accordingly, in 2020 it rejected the establishment of YU Pride Alliance as a recognized on-campus group, explaining that the “message of Torah on this issue is nuanced, both accepting each individual with love and affirming its timeless prescriptions. While students will of course socialize in gatherings they see fit, forming a new club as requested under the auspices of YU will cloud this nuanced message.”

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The legislation in question, formally filed as H.R.8404 and sponsored by liberal New York Congressman Jerry Nadler, would codify same-sex marriage into federal law, effectively forcing states to recognize any marriage performed in another state regardless of laws on their own books.

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Instead, the school announced a series of measures meant to address legitimate concerns of homosexual or gender-confused students without “clouding” the faith’s moral teachings, such as updating its sensitivity training, hiring a counselor with experience in LGBT issues, and creating a phone line to report harassment and bullying.

That didn’t satisfy campus LGBT activists, who filed a lawsuit. In June, Judge Lynn Kotler of the New York County Supreme Court ruled that Yeshiva was subject to the New York City Human Rights Law and “not a ‘religious corporation,’” so it must “immediately grant plaintiff YU Pride Alliance the full equal accommodations, advantages, facilities and privileges afforded to all other student groups at Yeshiva University.”

Yeshiva appealed, and on September 9 Sotomayor ordered the lower ruling “stayed pending further order of the undersigned or of the Court,” without elaboration as to the issues of the dispute. The order does not resolve the case, but ensures Yeshiva will not have to recognize the club until a final ruling on the merits is made.

“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 of the religious liberty firm Becket, which is representing the school. “We are grateful that Justice Sotomayor stepped in to protect Yeshiva’s religious liberty in this case.”

Somewhat complicating the case is a 1967 update to Yeshiva’s charter declaring that the university “is and continues to be organized and operated exclusively for educational purposes,” which Kotler used to justify rejecting the school’s religious identity arguments. The school maintains that the language was meant only to denote a non-sectarian approach to its admissions process, not administrative decisions.

“Any ruling that Yeshiva is not religious is obviously wrong,” the university argues. “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.”

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