On September 9, 2022, Justice Sonya Sotomayor issued a stay of a New York state trial court’s ruling against Yeshiva University that would have required the school violate its religious convictions by “immediately” granting official approval to a student club called “YU Pride Alliance.” Boyden Gray & Associates submitted an amicus brief in support of Yeshiva University’s application for the stay on behalf of the Archdiocese of New York, Biola University, Brigham Young University, Cedarville University, the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Houston Baptist University, Liberty University, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, and Wheaton College.
The brief argued that the New York state court’s decision violate both the historic understanding of the First Amendment’s protection of church autonomy and the Supreme Court’s applications of that principle:
This is not a hard case, but it is an important one. Religious freedom means the freedom to be different, both individually and institutionally. As this Court has long recognized, this freedom can exist only if religious institutions are able to create environments where their beliefs and way of life are passed on through both instruction and lived example. . . . All agree that Yeshiva University’s decision not to recognize YU Pride Alliance was based on a sincere religious belief about how to clearly communicate Judaism’s Torah values to its students. This Court’s First Amendment jurisprudence categorically forbids the government from second-guessing or interfering with Yeshiva University’s decision in any way.
The New York Times’s Liam Stack reported on the brief. Noting that the case was closely watched by other religious organizations, Stack wrote:
In court documents, Jonathan Berry, a lawyer for that coalition, wrote that the Yeshiva case concerned whether religious educational institutions would be able “to live out their faiths and missions free from state interference.”
Without that protection, he wrote, “religious institutions may soon be forced to face the same impossible choice as Yeshiva University: abandon your faith or risk contempt or other legal penalties.”
The brief was also commented on by Kentucky Today, quoting Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission acting president Brent Leatherwood:
That the New York court is even entertaining this question is a bridge too far. . . . The reality is, the courts have no jurisdiction here, and I am hopeful the emergency appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court and the amicus brief we have joined supporting that appeal will make that abundantly clear.
The full amicus brief is available here.