17 November 2016

Trinity Western University: Round 10 (Give or Take)

Let's start with a hat-tip to the inestimable D.G. Hart here for the heads-up to the recent success of Trinity Western University in its long-running battle to open a Christian law school in Canada. As I've described here, here, and here, TWU's effort to expand the scope of legal education in Canada has met fierce resistance from the proponents of an "open" society. TWU's failing? To require its students to abide by a code of conduct that limits sexual activity to marriage, and in which "marriage" is conventionally defined as subsisting in a relationship between a man and a woman. A bit a throwback, perhaps, but hardly reason for a cause célèbre, or so one might think.

In any event, go here to read the 66-page opinion by the Court of Appeals for British Columbia. While in the end the Court of Appeals upheld the decision of the provincial lower court, which, in turn, had overturned the decision of the membership of the Law Society of British Columbia (the equivalent of an American state bar association) to reverse the approval of TWU's program by its own board (got that?), one should not draw the conclusion that a new day of religious liberty has dawned in Canada. That it took 66 pages to justify the freedom of a small university to offer a program of useful instruction demonstrates how we find most of the West to falling in line with totalitarian libertarianism.

One can thus be pleased with the outcome of this case and still have doubts about the future of a public place for expressions of orthodox Christian practice in Canada. Even in TWU's situation, the Court of Appeals for Ontario has held against the university which, unless reversed by the Supreme Court of Canada, precludes TWU law grads from practicing in Canada's largest province.

The prospects in the land south-of-the-border are not as grim but the eventual blowback from the recent presidential election will re-invigorate the federal government's attempts to use its Title IX tools to bring nonconforming U.S. colleges and universities to heel. (Assuming, of course, that President Trump's DOE and DOJ relent.) It's a long way from here to there, of course, but I think I'll celebrate TWU's victory with a beerMolson and not champagne.

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