The Supreme Court decision reeks of judicial activism and defies liberty and freedom
Opinions about a Supreme Court of Canada decision denying a proposed new law school at Trinity Western University in Langley vary dramatically. Some find it an affront to democracy, others think it was the right decision. Two columnists illustrate this difference of opinion. In the following column, Michael Taube makes the case against the decision. Saturday, columnist Corey Shefman will defend it.
THE SUPREME COURT of Canada has ruled 7-2 against Trinity Western University’s proposed new law school.
The majority opinion believed it was “proportionate and reasonable” to limit religious rights and values so that potential LGBT students could have open access to study law on the campus.
TWU is a small, privately funded Christian liberal arts university based in Langley, B.C. It was founded in 1962 as a transfer college, began awarding bachelor’s degrees in 1980 and was legislated to its current position by the B.C. government in 1985.
This post-secondary institution supports traditional Christian principles. Its Latin motto is Turris Fortis Deus Noster or “A Mighty Fortress is Our God.” Yet there’s no compulsory church attendance, religion classes or seminars – meaning students can participate and practise as much or as little as they wish.
Most of the student population is, and has always been, Christian. Yet people of different faiths and walks of life – including Jews, Muslims and, yes, the LGBT community – have earned degrees at TWU in the arts, humanities, theology, business and nursing.
There are strict guidelines in TWU’s Community Covenant Agreement against theft, plagiarism, and alcohol, tobacco and illegal drug consumption. Students must also agree to refrain from “sexual intimacy that violates the sacredness of marriage between a man and a woman.”
Naturally, the political left is opposed to this section – and has repeatedly attempted to bring it down.
In one notable instance, the B.C. College of Teachers declined TWU’s teacher training program in 1995 because it supposedly prohibited “homosexual behaviour.” This dispute went all the way to our Supreme Court and, in a 8-1 decision in 2001, it ruled in favour of the private university. In the majority opinion for that case, “the concern that graduates of TWU will act in a detrimental fashion in the classroom is not supported by any evidence.”
This ruling made sense then and it still makes sense now.
As a private institution, TWU doesn’t receive taxpayer funding. It isn’t required to follow the same guidelines that public universities do, enabling them to set their own rules, parameters, programs and student population each year.
The university’s application process contains no restrictions against race, religion, gender or sexual orientation. The only thing that’s prohibited are same-sex relationships – which, last I checked, have nothing to do with post-secondary education.
With respect to the gay community, they’re free to apply and will be accepted if they meet the academic requirements. Just like everyone else.
Hence, any gay or straight person who disagrees with TWU’s support of traditional Christian principles shouldn’t fill out an application form. Students have the freedom to choose the institutions of higher learning they wish to attend. If they don’t like or respect these guidelines, there are other Canadian universities to choose from.
The same theory would have applied to TWU’s law school.
Plus, there are other law schools for gay and straight students to choose from. Nineteen Canadian universities teach English common law and six teach French civil law. Seven of those universities teach dual law degrees.
As someone who strongly believes in freedom of choice, I know what a restrictive marketplace looks like. This isn’t one of them.
Left-wing activists refuse to accept that we live in a democratic society and TWU should have the right to set its own guidelines. Rather, these activitists believe they have the right to dictate the terms and conditions every university, public or private, must follow – or else.
They don’t but the Supreme Court’s irrational ruling will make them feel like they do. And the ones who will suffer the most will be those who truly cherish democracy, liberty and freedom.
Troy Media columnist and political commentator Michael Taube was a speechwriter for former prime minister Stephen Harper.
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