There has been a plethora of articles commenting on the recent result in JFS.  In The Guardian, Mark Hill QC, specialist in ecclesiastical law, tells us “What the JFS ruling meant“, arguing that “If secularists believe this Supreme Court decision marks the beginning of the end of faith schools they are wrong. The importance of a religious ethos in the education system has been strongly reaffirmed, as has the deference which courts will continue to show to religious organisations acting in good faith.”

n the same paper, Jonathan Romain, Chairman of the Accord Coalition, sees things slightly differently and writes that “The JFS ruling is a victory for Jews“. He says: “It is a victory for common sense over discrimination. It was always indefensible that a Jewish school should refuse Jewish education to a Jewish child. The ruling is a slap in the face for the Jewish authorities that sought to rebuff the child. It will also serve as a wake-up call to all state-funded faith schools to honour their responsiblities to wider society.”   

However, there appears to be some disagreement about the result of the case. Romain complains “It is rather distasteful that the JFS has been defended by a press release claiming the Supreme Court decision was by “the narrowest of margins” ie 5-4. This is spin. In reality, five judges found it was guilty direct discrimination, two of indirect discrimination and two of no discrimination.”

Confirming this view, Fiona Scolding, a barrister at Hardwicke Chambers, discusses some of the far reaching consequences of the case in The Independent, suggesting that “The Supreme Court split five against the school’s admission policy and four in favour. Five found the admissions policy discriminatory.” And we note that in The Jerusalem Post, they considered that the Court “upheld the Court of Appeal’s decision by a majority of five to four, the closest possible margin“. Similarly, the Board of Deputies of British Jews describe themselves as “extremely disappointed” by the outcome of the case “reached by the narrowest possible margin”.

The Equality and Human Rights Commission welcomed the ruling and the British Humanist Association were also quite pleased with the decision.

A detailed analysis of the judgment can be found on the Human Rights in Ireland Blog.