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Freedom of association is not obnoxious

By Scott Tibbs, November 4, 2013

Imagine university sophomore Bubba is an active Republican. He volunteers at phone banks, goes door-to-door for Republican candidates, helps organize rallies for Republicans running for office and writes letters to the editor endorsing Republican and criticizing Democrats. Should the College Democrats be required to accept Bubba as a member?

That leads me to this little tidbit in the Washington Post attacking Mark Obenshain:

This year, he was chief patron of a bill that allows college clubs to restrict group membership to like-minded participants. That obnoxious bill, narrowly enacted thanks to Republican support, would allow campus religious groups to ban homosexuals.

The legislation in question is SB 1074, and it applies much more broadly than allowing religious groups to not accept homosexuals as members, something you would not know just by reading the article.

Freedom of association is a right the founders viewed as essential, which is why they banned government from interfering with it in the First Amendment to the Constitution. But a critical component of freedom of association is the freedom not to associate. If the College Democrats are required to accept Republicans as members, it waters down what it means to be a College Democrat.

This is especially important when it comes to religious organizations, because you are dealing with both freedom of association and religious freedom. A Catholic student group should not be forced to admit a Protestant who openly opposes Catholic doctrine. If any religious organization at a public university - Christian, Muslim, or Hindu - is forced to accept members who oppose them on specific articles of faith that organization holds as essential it is a clear violation of that organization's rights under the Constitution.

Obenshain should be praised for his legislation, not condemned for it. He is taking a classic libertarian position.