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Constitutional provisions separating church and state were intended by the Founding Fathers not merely to prevent the establishment of a state church but also (and especially) to protect the churches from government interference. Those longstanding protections hang in the balance as the Supreme Court prepares its decision on Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, according to Michael McConnell. Oral arguments were presented on April 19, 2010, and a decision is expected in June.

The case began roughly six years ago, when the Hastings School of Law, which belongs to the public University of California system, denied official status to a Christian student group because it required its members to affirm a statement of faith and conduct. The Christian Legal Society (CLS), a nationwide ministry to students and practitioners of the law, professes the traditional Christian teaching that sex is reserved for marriage between a man and a woman. This, determined the law school and its dean, Leo Martinez, constitutes discrimination on the basis of religion and sexual orientation.

McConnell argued the case before the Supreme Court on behalf of CLS. A federal judge on the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals from 2002 to 2009, he is one of the nation’s preeminent authorities on the framework of church and state. McConnell now directs the Stanford Constitutional Law Center at Stanford University.

You can read Timothy Dalrymple’s interview with McConnell here.

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Justin Taylor, PhD

Justin Taylor is executive vice president of book publishing and book publisher for Crossway and blogs at Between Two Worlds. You can follow him on Twitter.

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