The Accreditation of Trinity Western University's Law Program

Richard Moon, "The Accreditation of Trinity Western University's Law School", Law Matters (CBA - Alberta), Summer 2015

13 Pages Posted: 18 Mar 2016

See all articles by Richard Moon

Richard Moon

University of Windsor - Faculty of Law

Date Written: June 15, 2015

Abstract

There is a debate at the moment about whether the law societies (which regulate the legal profession in the various provinces) must accredit a law program to be offered by Trinity Western University [TWU], a private Evangelical Christian college. The Law Society of Upper Canada [LSUC], along with the law societies of British Columbia and Nova Scotia, refused to the accredit the proposed program because of the school’s discriminatory admissions policy and in particular the covenant that all students are required to sign, in which they agree, among other things, not to engage in sex outside of marriage and sex with a same-sex partner. The issue in the TWU accreditation case is whether the covenant is simply an internal matter (a rule that applies simply to the internal operations of a voluntary religious association) or whether it impacts outsiders to the religious community or the public interest, more generally. As I understand it, the law societies are not claiming that the members of a religious community need to be protected from oppressive or discriminatory internal rules. There are two ways in which it may be argued that the TWU program (and the covenant in particular) will have an impact on the public interest. The first argument is that a school that teaches its students that homosexuality is wrongful or immoral will not properly prepare lawyers for practice in the general community. Lawyers have duties to their clients, to the law, and to the institutions of justice. An accredited school must be willing to affirm basic equality rights. Second, admission to Canadian law schools is competitive. If its program is accredited, TWU will select students from a large number of applicants. Following graduation (as well as articling, and bar exams), TWU students will be eligible to practice law in a particular province. The accredited law schools are a gateway to the legal profession. The concern then is that TWU’s admissions policy will have a discriminatory impact on gays and lesbians who wish to enter the legal profession.

Keywords: Freedom of religion, law school accreditation, Trinity Western University

Suggested Citation

Moon, Richard, The Accreditation of Trinity Western University's Law Program (June 15, 2015). Richard Moon, "The Accreditation of Trinity Western University's Law School", Law Matters (CBA - Alberta), Summer 2015, Available at SSRN: https://ssrn.com/abstract=2748156

Richard Moon (Contact Author)

University of Windsor - Faculty of Law ( email )

401 Sunset Ave.
Windsor, Ontario N9B 3P4
Canada

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