Ted Cruz to investigate Yale for barring aid to students working at Christian conservative orgs
April 5, 2019 (LifeSiteNews) — Conservative Sen. Ted Cruz (R-Texas) wants answers on Yale Law School’s recently revealed plan to exclude students who work at practicing Christian organizations from several financial aid programs. Cruz is threatening to recommend that the U.S. Department of Justice take action against the prestigious institution.
Earlier this week, Yale Law student and Marine Corps veteran Aaron Haviland detailed an announcement that the school’s “nondiscrimination” policy was being expanded to summer public interest fellowships, post-graduate public interest fellowships, and loan forgiveness for careers in public interest. Those stipends would no longer be available to students or graduates who work for organizations that supposedly “discriminate” on the basis of “sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.”
Yale administrators claimed in an email to students that the policy will apply only to organizations’ hiring practices, not their policy positions or stated values. But that would still disqualify working for Christian organizations who require employees to affirm that they live by Christian values, including abiding by Christian sexual mores.
In an April 4 letter to Yale Law’s Dean Heather Gerken, Cruz wrote that it “appears that the policy arose from unconstitutional animus and a specific discriminatory intent both to blacklist Christian organizations like the Alliance Defending Freedom and to punish Yale students whose values or religious faith lead them to work there.”
He noted that religious discrimination is also prohibited by federal civil rights laws to which Yale is bound as a recipient of taxpayer dollars and that the new policy “flatly contradicts Yale University’s Equal Opportunity Statement — a promise to all students — that, ‘as delineated by federal and Connecticut law, Yale does not discriminate in admissions, educational programs, or employment against any individual on account of that individual’s ... religion.’”
Cruz went on to notify Gerken that the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution, which he chairs, is opening an investigation into the matter, which may include “a referral to the Department of Justice for action against the law school.” He also called on the administration to retain a variety of communications, correspondences, and documentation investigators might subpoena, pertaining to the policy, its enforcement, student harassment complaints, or communications received from the LGBT student group Outlaws regarding ADF.
In February, Outlaws objected to the Yale Federalist Society inviting an ADF attorney to discuss the Masterpiece Cakeshop case. In addition to demanding that Yale deny financial support to students who take summer jobs or fellowships with conservative Christian groups, Outlaws went so far as to suggest that students who agree with ADF shouldn’t even be admitted to Yale.
“[W]e are asking the Yale Law School administration to clarify its [Summer Public Interest Fellowship (‘SPIF’)] and admissions policies regarding organizations that discriminate against members of its community,” the group wrote. “Will students be admitted to this community who, for example, have worked to sue cities and states for passing anti-discrimination laws and ordinances?”
Yale Law School responded to Cruz’s letter with a statement insisting that it “does not discriminate on the basis of religion” and “enthusiastically supports the efforts of Jewish, Catholic, Muslim, liberal, and conservative groups to hire our students.” The statement reaffirms its support for the controversial policy, which it claims “will solely concern hiring practices.”
“It will not inquire about political goals, litigation strategies, or policy objectives of the organization,” the statement claims. “It will also include an accommodation for religious organizations and a ministerial exception, consistent with antidiscrimination principles.” The statement did not elaborate on whether the exception would cover statements of faith such as ADF’s.