Congress is investigating a Yale Law School policy adopted last month to withhold certain financial aid from students working or interning at Christian institutions.
In February, Yale’s LGBT advocacy group OutLaws demanded the school refuse financial aid to students who work for groups such as Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), a religious liberty defense firm. The demand followed the Yale Federalist Society bringing in a lawyer from ADF to talk to students about the Masterpiece Cakeshop Supreme Court case, which dealt with the right of a Christian baker to decline to create custom cakes for same-sex weddings because of his Biblical beliefs about marriage.
The school responded with an email to the student body saying it would no longer offer postgraduate public interest fellowships or loan forgiveness for public interest careers for students working at entities that “discriminate” on the basis of “sexual orientation and gender identity and expression.” The fellowships provide stipends of up to $47,500 for one year of postgraduate work at a public interest organization, according to the Yale Law School website.
The school later clarified that it would simply require employers to sign a nondiscrimination policy before providing funding for any students seeking employment there. “Obviously, the Law School cannot prohibit a student from working for an employer who discriminates, but that is not a reason why Yale Law School should bear any obligation to fund that work, particularly if that organization does not give equal employment opportunity to all of our students,” the Yale public interest committee wrote.
Sen. Ted Cruz, R-Texas, in a letter sent to Yale last week, called the policy “transparently discriminatory.”
“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 wrote in the two-page letter dated Thursday.
Cruz warned that the Senate Judiciary Committee’s Subcommittee on the Constitution would investigate the policy and told the law school to retain documents and communications, including those pertaining to OutLaws and the Yale Federalist Society, the March 25 email to students announcing the new nondiscrimination policy, the policy itself, and student complaints of harassment or mistreatment.
He further warned that the investigation could lead to a referral to the U.S. Department of Justice for action against the school and asked school administrators to alert him “if Yale Law School decides to alter its position and cease discriminating against religious students and organizations.” —Samantha Gobba