Landmark judgment in precedent-setting conscience case for medical staff in Norway; ADF International supported family doctor’s right to freedom of conscience
HALIFAX, NOVA SCOTIA – On Tuesday, the Nova Scotia Court of Appeals (NSBS) upheld a trial court’s decision which found that the province’s Barristers’ Society doesn’t have the authority to deny accreditation to Trinity Western University’s law school (TWU) because of its biblical beliefs on appropriate sexual behaviour. The decision comes after a ruling from an appeals court in Ontario in June found the opposite, creating a split decision that may increase the odds that the case is destined for the Supreme Court of Canada.
TWU filed a lawsuit in October 2014 against NSBS after it refused to recognize TWU graduates as lawyers unless the school changed its policy on sexual activity and marital fidelity. TWU requires its students, faculty, and staff to refrain from having premarital sex or engaging in sex outside of a marriage relationship between one man and one woman.
Christian universities and schools should be free to operate according to the very faith they teach and believe
“Christian universities and schools should be free to operate according to the very faith they teach and believe,” said Gerald Chipeur, Q.C. of the Canadian firm Miller Thompson, LLP, and one of more than 3,000 lawyers allied with ADF International. “The court accurately affirmed that the Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society has improperly denied accreditation by attempting to regulate outside of its jurisdiction—and did so simply because the law school and its students adhere to their sincerely held religious beliefs.”
“Nothing in the Legal Profession Act authorizes the Society to issue an independent ruling that someone has violated Nova Scotia’s Human Rights Act. Nor does the Human Rights Act…, as amended, contemplate the Society’s intervention…,” the Nova Scotia Court of Appeals wrote in its decision in The Nova Scotia Barristers’ Society v. Trinity Western University. “It is inconceivable that the Legislature, without expressing a supportive word in either the Legal Profession Act or the Human Rights Act, intended that the Society’s Council could assert for itself an autonomous jurisdiction concurrent with that of a human rights board of inquiry.”
Alliance Defending Freedom, a partner of ADF International, has provided support to the work of a team of allied lawyers representing multiple groups that filed briefs and presented oral arguments in support of TWU.