Trinity Western University returned to court June 1 to get the Law Society of B.C. to allow its graduates to practice law.
The society has appealed a December 2015 court decision saying the it must restore its original approval.
In April 2014 the Law Society of British Columbia voted to accept graduates of TWU’s proposed School of Law, but reversed its decision after a member referendum later that year. TWU took the Society to court in 2015
The society is appealing the ruling this week before a five-justice panel.
“This is about far more than the right to open a law school,” said TWU spokesperson Amy Robertson. “The B.C. appeal justices are deciding on an issue that will affect freedom for everyone – not just faith communities. At TWU we believe in upholding the freedom of all Canadians to believe as they choose and practice accordingly. Canada is a diverse, tolerant society, which means we are committed to living peacefully together even when we disagree. Many in the world don’t enjoy the same privilege.”
TWU also has fights on its hands in other provinces.
This is the second appeal hearing for TWU’s School of Law in as many months. Oral arguments were heard in Nova Scotia in April 2016, and a decision is pending. Next week TWU will head to the Court of Appeal of Ontario, where a similar appeal will be heard from June 6 to 8.
In all the provinces where TWU was rejected for recognition of its law grads, the issue is the school’s Community Covenant.
Students and staff must sign the document that sets out accepted behaviours, including defining marriage as between a man and woman and banning sex outside of marriage.
The school refuses to drop the covenant but says it does not exclude people from attending.
“The Community Covenant is a core part of defining the TWU community as distinctly Christian,” said Robertson. “We are not making a statement about LGBTQ people; we are making a statement about biblical marriage, which is sacred to us. The same covenant calls for all members of the TWU community to respect the dignity of others regardless of their background. Loving one another without exception is one of the most important principles of the Christian faith.”