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Lawyers for Yeshiva University Assert That the Court’s Ruling Is Incorrect

The fallout and vehement replies have been coming in since the New York County Supreme Court ordered Yeshiva University to stop denying an official status to an LGBTQ student group last week.

A YU lawyer says, “Level, The Court Got This Wrong.

By “withholding and denying the full and equal enjoyment, on equal terms and conditions, of its accommodations, advantages, services, facilities, or privileges because of plaintiff’s actual or perceived sexual orientation,” the university had broken the New York City Human Rights Law, according to Judge Lynn Kotler’s decision from June 14.

In addition to ordering the university to stop denying the YU Pride Alliance official recognition and the YU President Ari Berman, whom the plaintiffs named as a defendant due to his influence over decisions, Kotler also ordered that the group be given the same resources as other recognized student organizations at the university. The parties are required to report to the court on how these directions are being followed by July 19 as a group.

“Formal recognition of a student group does not imply support of that group’s message,” the court declared in his ruling. The plaintiffs just ask for equal access to the material benefits offered to other student clubs on Yeshiva’s campus.

According to a YU spokesman, the administration would not add to the remarks it made last week, in which it expressed its disagreement with the court’s decision, about the situation. The statement continued, “We love and care for our pupils, who are all – each and everyone – created in G-image. We completely disagree with today’s judgment and will promptly appeal the decision.”

The court “got this wrong on every level,” according to YU’s main attorney, Eric Baxter.

He began by saying that religious organizations have complete autonomy to choose their own internal religious goals. Second, the court acknowledged that several secular and religious exemptions are provided for by the NYCHRL, the case’s central piece of legislation.

New York State Supreme Court Building - County Courthouse -


The court elevated form over content by stating, “Well, you didn’t declare it’s religious in its corporate documents,” which is not necessary elsewhere, instead of taking any of that into account.

Despite being established under New York law as an educational organization rather than a religious one, the university contains characteristics that unmistakably demonstrate its religious identity.

Even the plaintiffs in this lawsuit have indicated that they came to Yeshiva because of its religious community and because of the religious components of the program, according to Baxter. As a result, even they admit that there is a religious atmosphere. Despite the inclusion of Judaic studies seminars, on-campus minyanim, kosher meals, and Jewish holiday observance, the judge came to the conclusion that religion was not fundamental to the school’s identity.

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Both supporters and opponents of the court’s ruling highlighted changes to the university’s charter as the foundation for this assessment: In the first version of the school’s charter, which was in effect until 1967, the mission was listed as “to encourage the study of Talmud,” but the amended version also added the words “organized and operated exclusively for educational reasons.”

According to Nathan Lewin, a first amendment attorney from the DC area, “several viewpoints, including likely Rabbi Soloveitchik’s, warned that this would be bad,” in an email. Lewin and others who shared the Soloveitchik incident on social media claimed that the court’s decision reinforced these warnings, and Lewin claimed that the judge’s reasoning for this choice appeared to be sound.

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To this, Baxter objected. The judge also incorrectly drew a distinction between YU’s religious and secular education, noting that “Torah Umadda, as Yeshiva understands it, is basically the combining of all types of education to educate the full individual.” Nearly all religious institutions, and undoubtedly all significant religious universities, view all of this education through a spiritual lens, believing that by doing so, you are assisting each student in becoming a complete person and enabling them to realize the potential that their creator deity had in mind for them.

He concluded by saying, “The City Council certainly intended to exempt institutions like Yeshiva University, and even if it hadn’t, the First Amendment would still compel it since courts do not have the ability or competence to assess what decisions are religious and what ones are not.

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This verdict demonstrates how modern society values sexual freedom over religious practice and adherence, which is harmful to religious American Jews and adherents of other faiths, continued Lewin.

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