Canada’s Supreme Court is looking to make a decision on whether graduates from a proposed Christian law school be recognized as lawyers.
Trinity Western University (TWU) is a private university located in British Columbia that wants to include a law school on its campus.
The two main bodies that have to determine the quality of that program – and whether it meets their requirements – have both agreed that the program meets those requirements.
Despite this conclusion, two law societies are protesting this determination and sending out the warning that they will not recognize TWU's law school graduates.
TWU School of Law executive director Earl Phillips says the law societies' objection is related to a sentence in the university's Community Covenant that calls on students and staff to live by Christian principles.
"There is no question that that proposed law school will educate and graduate people who will be fit to then go and practice law," Phillips maintained. "The only reason that two law societies are protesting that and saying they won't recognize our graduates is because Trinity Western wishes to operate as a distinctive Christian community and operate in accordance with its understanding of Christian sexual ethics."
The section at issue asks members of the university community to honor the biblical view of marriage as a sacred covenant between a man and a woman.
This is not the first time Trinity Western University has dealt with this type of opposition.
"In the 1990s, when we were putting forward a program to educate teachers and the body in British Columbia that has to recognize teachers before they're allowed to teach in the province, said that they would not recognize our graduates coming out of Trinity Western – again because of our community covenant that has a traditional Christian sexual ethic component," Phillips recalled. "We had to take them to court back in the late 90s, and it resulted in a final decision from the Supreme Court of Canada in 2001 in our favor."
There are currently two cases going before Canada's highest court. One case is from Ontario and the other is from British Columbia. Both cases are scheduled to be heard at the Supreme Court of Canada later this year on November 30 and December 1.
Founded in 1962 as a private Christian post-secondary institution, TWU is fully accredited and offers liberal arts and sciences, as well as professional schools in business, nursing, education, human kinetics, graduate studies, arts, media and culture.
TWU is planning to establish the first law school in Canada that focuses on charity, small business and entrepreneurial law.