The Supreme Court of Canada ruled on June 15, 2018 that provincial law societies can deny accreditation to a proposed Christian law school, reports Catholic News Agency.
Trinity Western University, an evangelical school in the province of Langley, planned to open a law school in 2012 and sought accreditation. The Federation of Law Societies of Canada and the Ministry of Advanced Education in Langley approved Trinity’s proposal.
This really means that diversity in Canada doesn’t have room for a small, free-standing university with Christian principles to operate a law school. —Earl Phillips from Trinity Western University
However, the law societies of British Columbia, Ontario and Nova Scotia announced that they would not be giving licenses to TWU’s law graduates. They argued that the school’s beliefs in sexual morality discriminate the LGBT community.
Ruling 7-2, the Supreme Court affirmed that law societies can deny accreditation to law graduates of TWU’s proposed law school because of its Biblical teaching on sexuality.
In a jointly authored decision, five of the seven judges in the majority vote wrote, “Limiting access to membership in the legal profession on the basis of personal characteristics, unrelated to merit, is inherently inimical to the integrity of the legal profession.”
Meanwhile, the two justices who favored Trinity Western said, “Approval of [Trinity Western University’s] proposed law school would not represent a state preference for evangelical Christianity, but rather a recognition of the state’s duty… to accommodate diverse religious beliefs without scrutinizing their content.”
In an interview with Canadian newspaper, The Globe and Mail, Earl Phillips, executive director of the proposed law school, said the school will review the community covenant. He lamented that the Supreme Court’s decision is a huge blow against religious freedom in the country.
“This really means that diversity in Canada doesn’t have room for a small, free-standing university with Christian principles to operate a law school,” Phillips said.