Ratchford v. Gay Lib,
434 U.S. 1080 (1978)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Ratchford v. Gay Lib, 434 U.S. 1080 (1978)

Ratchford v. Gay Lib

No. 77-447

Decided Feb. 21, 1978

Rehearing Denied April 17, 1978

See 435 U.S. 981

434 U.S. 1080




MR. JUSTICE REHNQUIST, with whom MR. JUSTICE BLACKMUN joins, dissenting.

There is a natural tendency on the part of any conscientious court to avoid embroiling itself in a controversial area of social policy unless absolutely required to do so. I therefore completely understand, if I do not agree with, the Court's decision to deny certiorari in this case. In quick summary, the University of Missouri, exercising the traditional authority granted to it by the State to regulate what student organizations will have access to campus facilities, denied recognition to respondent Gay Lib. The denial stemmed from a finding by a University-appointed hearing officer that formal University

Page 434 U. S. 1081

recognition would "tend to expand homosexual behavior which will cause increased violations of [the State's sodomy statute]." Respondents, choosing to remove the dispute from its traditional University setting to the federal courts, sued in the United States District Court for the Western District of Missouri, claiming that the denial infringed their constitutional rights to free speech and freedom of association. The District Court held that the University had not violated respondents' constitutional rights. Gay Lib v. University of Missouri, 416 F.Supp. 1350 (1976). Respondents, continuing to pursue a judicial solution to their problem, persuaded two judges of a three-judge panel of the Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit to reverse the District Court. 558 F.2d 848 (1977). A petition for rehearing en banc was denied by an equally divided court. The University now seeks certiorari here to review that decision.

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