Christian Legal Society


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Christian Legal Society

The Christian Legal Society (CLS), founded in 1961, is a nonprofit organization of lawyers, judges, law professors, and law students. The group's missions are to promote high ethical standards within the legal profession, to support its members' commitment to Christian professional lives, and to advance religious freedom for all U.S. citizens regardless of affiliation. CLS provides resources for research into law and theology; maintains a data bank of commentaries on legal issues; and provides a speakers' bureau, a lawyer-referral service, and mediation and Arbitration services. It also publishes Christian Legal Society—Briefly, a quarterly newsletter for its members, and Christian Legal Society—Quarterly, a magazine that covers issues that are in line with the society's goals. CLS's legal-advocacy arm, the Center for Law and Religious Freedom, promotes freedom of religion and challenges government interference with the free exercise of religion.

In 1993, CLS backed passage of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA), 42 U.S.C.A. §§ 2000bb, et seq., a response to the 1990 U.S. Supreme Court decision in Employment Division, Department of Human Resources v. Smith, 494 U.S. 872, 110 S. Ct. 1595, 108 L. Ed. 2d 876. Smith upheld a denial of unemployment benefits to Native Americans who had been fired from their jobs for using peyote, a hallucinogenic drug, as part of a religious ceremony. CLS and numerous other groups representing a wide range of religious and political persuasions lobbied for RFRA, which requires the government to show a "compelling state interest," such as public health or safety, before interfering with religious practices.

CLS members successfully argued two important religious-freedom cases before the U.S. Supreme Court in 1993. In Zobrest v. Catalina Foothills School District, 509 U.S. 1, 113 S. Ct. 2462, 125 L. Ed. 2d 1, the Court held that the Establishment Clause did not prohibit a public school district from paying for a sign language interpreter for a deaf student who attended a Catholic high school. In Lamb's Chapel v. Center Moriches Union Free School District, 508 U.S. 384, 113 S. Ct. 2141, 124 L. Ed. 2d 352, the Court held that a school district's denial of a religious organization's application to use school facilities to show a film on Christian values in family relationships violated the church's First Amendment right to Freedom of Speech.

In Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of the University of Virginia, 515 U.S. 819, 115 S. Ct. 2510, 132 L. Ed. 2d 700 (1995), CLS supported the plaintiff, who sued the University of Virginia for denying his request for financial support for publication of a Christian magazine. Although the university subsidized a wide range of publications from its Student Activities Fund (SAF), it denied Ronald W. Rosenberger's request on the grounds that his magazine violated SAF guidelines. Rosenberger argued that the guidelines, which prohibited the university from subsidizing a publication that "primarily promotes or manifests a particular belie[f] in or about a deity or an ultimate reality," violated his free speech rights. A brief filed by CLS maintained that the guidelines discriminated on the basis of religious belief and that a decision against the plaintiff would be a step toward "a relentlessly secular society" that is intolerant of religious persons and their views. The U.S. Supreme Court decided in favor of the plaintiff but rested its holding on free speech grounds, stating that the SAF guidelines discriminated on the basis of viewpoint and violated the plaintiff's First Amendment rights.

The position taken by CLS in its amicus brief filed in the U.S. Supreme Court case of boy scouts of america v. dale, 530 U.S. 640, 120 S. Ct. 2446, 147 L. Ed. 2d 554 (2000) also raised arguments considered by the high court in its final ruling. The Court held that New Jersey's public-accommodations law violated the Boy Scouts' First Amendment right of association when the law required the Boy Scouts of America to admit James Dale, an avowed homosexual and gay-rights activist, as a member of its organization. The Boy Scouts, a private, not-for-profit organization, had asserted that homosexual conduct was inconsistent with the values it sought to instill in its members.

In the early part of the decade, CLS filed amicus briefs in numerous cases involving religious, ethical, or moral issues, including Newdow v. U.S. Congress, 292 F.2d 597 (9th Cir. 2002), judgement stayed (opposing a challenge to the "under God" phrase in the Pledge of Allegiance) and Oregon v. Aschcroft, 192 F. Supp. 2d 1077 (D. Or. 2002) (supporting Attorney General Ashcroft's directive to revoke federal controlled-substances licenses from physicians who prescribed narcotics for suicides). In 2002, CLS also published a scholarly position paper opposing human cloning for any purpose. It argued that the scientific distinction between human reproductive cloning and therapeutic (stem cell) cloning was specious and not supported by scientific data, in that both forms of cloning required the killing of a living human embryo.

CLS members are committed to the biblical injunction to "not leave justice and the love of God undone" (Luke 11:42, Matt. 23:23). They are dedicated to ending injustice, limiting or eliminating legal Abortion, outlawing Pornography, and bringing religious thought and precepts into public education. They also are committed to the evangelization of the legal profession, and plan to increase the society's membership by ten to 12 percent each year.

Further readings

Christian Legal Society Website. Available online at <www.clsnet.org> (cited March 17, 2003).

Christian Legal Society Quarterly. Published beginning in 1981.

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Beck Institute on Religion and Poverty at the Fordham University Graduate School of Social Service; Auburn Theological Seminary; The Christian Legal Society; and the National Association of Muslim Lawyers.
The conference is cosponsored by the Center for Bioethics and Human Dignity, Christian Medical & Dental Associations, Christian Legal Society, Nurses Christian Fellowship, Americans United for Life, Fellowship of Christian Physician Assistants, and Trinity International University.
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As a result, a coalition of diverse interest groups, including the American Civil Liberties Union, Americans for the Separation of Church and State, the Christian Legal Society and the Baptist Joint Committee, formed to help get RLUIPA passed.
Rivers, National Ten-Point Leadership Foundation; John Robb, Christian Legal Society; Ron Sider, Evangelicals for Social Action; James Skillen, Center for Public Justice; Wallace Smith, Shiloh Baptist Church; Richard Steams, World Vision; Melvin Talbert, United Methodist Church; Ronald Thiemann, Harvard Divinity School; Harold Dean Trulear, Public/Private Ventures; Jim Wallis, Sojourners; Daniel Weiss, American Baptist Churches; Diana Jones Wilson, The Rural Center.
Hugh is a member of the Chicago, Illinois, and American Bar Associations, the Chicago Estate Planning Council, and the Christian Legal Society. He is licensed to practice law in Illinois and Minnesota and admitted to practice before the United States Tax Court.
"The campus administration would have a very clear rule," said Kim Colby, director of the Center for Law and Religious Freedom for the Christian Legal Society, which has chapters at law schools across the nation, including Washburn University in Topeka.
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Bridges was also active with the Campbell Law Observer, Christian Legal Society, and Men's Legal Caucus, and was a research assistant for Webster's Real Estate Law in North Carolina.
This wasn't good enough for the Christian Legal Society chapter at Hastings.
Perkins Bar Association, the Hispanic American Bar Association, the Asian American Bar Association, the Jacksonville Womens Lawyers Association, the Christian Legal Society, Jacksonville Area Legal Aid, and Florida Coastal School of Law, where the program was held.
As anti-abortion strategist Samuel Casey, executive director of the Christian Legal Society, explained it to the Los Angeles Times in January, "In as many areas as we can, we want to put on the books that the embryo is a person.

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