The May 23 Technique story, “Sklar v. Clough case resolves,” regarding a federal judge’s ruling in the case against Tech brought by co-plaintiff Ruth Malhotra and me purported to be a news piece, but fell well short of the mark. Not only did the article omit pertinent information, but at times was factually inaccurate.
The court did not “rule in support of Tech” as erroneously reported. In fact, Malhotra and I have prevailed on three of the four claims in our case. As a result of our lawsuit, Georgia Tech has 1) repealed its speech code, 2) altered its unconstitutional “speech zone,” and 3) eliminated the unconstitutional portion of its “Safe Space” program.
The court ruled April 29 that provisions of the school’s “Safe Space” program discriminate against religion and are therefore unconstitutional. The court already struck down the Institute’s “speech code” in August 2006 and prohibited Tech from changing the policy without court approval for five years.
The quotes from the Institute, implying that Tech has not been required to take any action and that nothing has changed are flat-out false. The recent ruling puts an end to discriminatory provisions of Tech’s “Safe Space” administrator-run training program, which officials used to support religious viewpoints that favor homosexual behavior while disparaging those that oppose it. The court found that Tech officials, including President Clough and Dean Ray, “violated the Establishment Clause by favoring one religion over another in the state-associated Safe Space Program.”
This is the first federal court ruling of its kind in the nation dealing with a university program such as Safe Space, and sets an important precedent for universities across the country.
In addition, the court opined that the fourth claim, regarding Tech’s Student Activity Policy, is unconstitutional. The court’s only concern was who ought to be held liable for the invalid policy. The judge did not rule that the policy is okay; rather, he specifically condemned the practice of not funding religious and political activities.
This is a victory for all students, but certainly not for Tech. Now that these policies have been changed, students have the right to speak freely and the administration cannot take sides on religious matters. April’s court ruling was a significant win for religious liberty on campuses across the country. We are pleased that as a result of our actions, Georgia Tech is closer to abiding by the U.S. Constitution.