Pennsylvania Court Rejects Catholic College's Appeal

October 30, 2017

The Pennsylvania Supreme Court last week rejected a request from Chestnut Hill College to reverse a lower court's ruling that the Pennsylvania Human Rights Commission was entitled to pursue a case against the college. Chestnut Hill has maintained that the commission, which enforces the state's antibias laws, should have no authority at Chestnut Hill because the institution is Roman Catholic. But the lower court found that the case at hand -- a complaint from a former student who is black that racism played a role in his expulsion -- did not involve religious doctrine and so did not raise First Amendment concerns as the college claimed. The commission and others said that, if Chestnut Hill had won the exemption it sought, religious colleges would be able to freely engage in discrimination (quite aside from religious belief) in ways that could hurt students and employees.

The college issued this statement about the Supreme Court's refusal to consider an appeal: "The Pennsylvania Supreme Court did not issue an opinion on the college's appeal. Their decision was not to hear our case. The college is weighing its options and considering our next steps."

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