Remember the story? TWU is a Christian university that requires all of its students to sign a pledge that they won't have sex unless they are in a HETEROSEXUAL marriage - a condition that no queer student can comply with. TWU wanted to set up a law school. They needed approval.
The LSBC initially agreed that graduates from TWU would be admitted to practise law in BC.
The members of the Law Society, ie all the lawyers in the province, requisitioned a vote by ballot of all the lawyers in the province, to reverse the Law Society decision. The vote passed overwhelmingly.
But the Benchers (governors of the Law Society) were unconvinced. Maybe some lawyers didn't realize they should have voted???
So this is what they did. The Benchers directed that there be another vote, this time at by ballot. And they agreed, in advance, to be bound by the result of that vote.
Mike Mulligan, the lawyer who initiated the protest of the Law Society's accreditation, and I, were both concerned that in agreeing in advance to follow the results of the vote of lawyers, the Benchers were "fettering their discretion". That's a legal term that means you can't decide now, what you will decide later. Any board of directors is always empowered to make a decision different than they made at the last meeting and you can't bind a board in advance. I advised the Benchers of our concern.
The meeting was the largest meeting in Law Society history. A link to my motion to adopt the resolution to reverse the decision to accredit TWU is here. For a second time, the lawyers voted overwhelmingly to overturn the Benchers' decision to accredit TWU.
Following its own motion, the Benchers reversed their decision.
Today, the Supreme Court of BC said that the Benchers made two mistakes in their procedure: they improperly fettered their discretion; and they failed to balance the Charter-protected freedom of religion and the Charter-protected right to be free from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.
The court did NOT decide that TWU was right, or that the Law Society should approve the law school. Rather the Law Scoiety has to consider the issue again...this time, following proper procedures.
The decision was in our view the right one; and is supported by the profession. It is the Benchers who need to get their procedures in order.
A link to the full decision is here.