Trinity Western University’s campus. (Matthew Claxton/Langley Advance)

B.C. Christian school mulls covenant, future of law school after court ruling

The university still wants to open a law school, but is looking at its options.

Trinity Western University officials are not scrapping their plans for a law school on the Langley-based Christian campus.

“We’re certainly looking at possible ways of moving forward,” said Earl Phillips, executive director of the university’s law school plan.

He said first there will need to be analysis of the Supreme Court of Canada’s decision, which found in favour of the law societies of B.C. and Ontario.

Both law societies had objected to allowing TWU to grant law degrees because the university’s Community Covenant forbids sexual relations outside of marriage between a man and a woman. The law societies argued that would essentially ban LGBTQ students, including married gay students, from attending the law school.

“Limiting access to membership in the legal profession on the basis of personal characteristics, unrelated to merit, is inherently inimical to the integrity of the legal profession,” the majority of justices wrote in their decision.

The seven-to-two decision by the justices included a dissent, as well as two justices who found against TWU, but for different reasons from the majority.

“It’s a very complex and long decision,” said Phillips.

He acknowledged that the school’s Community Covenant is “at the center” of the issue, and that is something the entire university community will have to consider.

Some version of the covenant, or a similar pledge, has been a feature of TWU since it was founded in the 1960s, Phillips said.

“It has been a feature, but it has been reviewed, and I’m sure it will be reviewed in the future,” he said. The covenant has been changed in the past.

In the court’s majority decision, they justices italicized the word “mandatory” at one point to emphasize that it was a factor in their decision.

The lengthy legal battles have already caused delays in the planned opening of the law school.

Phillips said the original plan was to open in 2015. The first graduates of the three-year program would have been leaving with law degrees this year under that plan.

However, he said the lack of a law school does not seem to be having an impact on the rest of the university. It is still expanding in other areas, and recently asked for a rezoning of one portion of its campus to build new dormitories.

Just Posted

More sailings coming to 10 BC Ferries’ routes

Transportation Minister Claire Trevena said the sailings were originally cut in 2014

Baby makes surprise arrival in car on Sheep Creek Hill

Meldrum Creek woman delivers in the passenger seat

Emergency management top priority for CCRD

MOU will be the first of its kind in B.C.

Spring fishery closures mulled for south coast

Fewer fish are returning to rivers and more conservation needed, say feds

B.C. BUDGET: Surplus $374 million after bailouts of BC Hydro, ICBC

Growth projected stronger in 2020, Finance Minister Carole James says

National Energy Board approves Trans Mountain pipeline again

Next step includes cabinet voting on the controversial expansion

Girl heard saying ‘Help my Dad’ in suspicious radio message on Vancouver Island

Police asking for help following mysterious signals from somewhere between Comox and Sayward

Reports of rashes prompt closure of all Harrison Hot Springs pools

Public pool available after Fraser Health shut down all five mineral pools until further notice

No treatment for highly infectious measles, says doctor

10 cases of measles confirmed in Vancouver as of Friday

Two more measles cases confirmed in Vancouver

It brings the number of total cases within the city connected to the outbreak to ten

B.C. Special Olympics officially underway in Vernon

Athlete’s Oath: “Let me win. But if I cannot win, let me be brave in the attempt.”

Vancouver Aquarium wants your help to name a baby killer whale

The public helped name Springer’s first calf, Spirit, and is being asked to help with the second

Guards protest firing of fellow officers charged with assault at B.C. prison

Corrections officers demonstrated in Maple Ridge on Friday afternoon

Skier dies at Revelstoke Mountain Resort

Cause of death for young man has not been released

Most Read