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ASU Students for Life wanted to display the Justice For All exhibit, a display demonstrating the harm of abortion, on campus. But as a condition of holding the display, ASU’s administration tried to force the club to pay a number of fees and obtain liability insurance that cost hundreds of dollars. In response to several letters from ADF, the University admitted that they had no record of these requirements ever being imposed on other students groups. There were no written policies to say when insurance was required, but rather the University decided on a case-by-case basis whether to impose the insurance requirement. Later, when the club wanted to distribute brochures on campus with community pro-life groups, the University again insisted that the group obtain insurance. On July 21, 2006, ADF filed a lawsuit on behalf of ASUSL to ensure that it could engage in free speech activities on campus on the same terms as all other student clubs.
The Christian Legal Society (CLS) at Arizona State University College of Law is a student chapter of the national Christian Legal Society, whose purposes include fellowship, promoting justice and religious liberty, Biblical conflict resolution, and discipling and nurturing Christian law students. At the start of the 2004-05 school year, CLS attempted to apply for official recognition by ASU. However, ASU’s Student Code of Conduct required all student organizations to pledge that they would not discriminate, among other things, based on religion in selecting members and leaders. CLS requires all members and leaders to affirm its statement of faith. ASU refused to recognize CLS. In November 2004, CLS filed a lawsuit, alleging that ASU violated its First Amendment rights of expressive association, free speech, and free exercise of religion by failing to exempt the chapter from the “nondiscrimination” provision in the Student Code of Conduct.
The University of California-Davis has an interesting twist on its nondiscrimination rule. In its definition of “religious discrimination” UC Davis goes out of its way to make clear that the policy protects all students regardless of their religious beliefs … unless those beliefs are Christian. Then you’re on your own. Here’s the text: Religious/Spiritual Discrimination - The loss of power and privilege to those who do not practice the dominant culture's religion. In the United States, this is institutionalized oppressions toward those who are not Christian.
The Christian Legal Society (CLS) at the University of California Hastings College of the Law (Hastings) is a student chapter of the national Christian Legal Society, whose purposes include fellowship, promoting justice and religious liberty, Biblical conflict resolution, and discipling and nurturing Christian law students. CLS filed a lawsuit in October 2004 against school officials who denied the group official recognition because CLS would not agree to accept members and officers who openly oppose its Christian beliefs. CLS asked Hastings officials in early September 2004 to exempt the group and other religious student organizations from the religion and sexual orientation portions of Hastings’ Policy on Nondiscrimination. The policy forced CLS, and other campus religious groups who want to be recognized, to accept non-Christian members and officers to gain official recognition and have access to campus facilities. Hastings denied CLS’s request, stating: “[T]o be one of our student-recognized organizations, the CLS chapter must open its membership to all students irrespective of their religious beliefs or sexual orientation.” The University then stripped CLS of its yearly funding, despite promises already made by Hastings officials to provide for certain chapter related expenses.
In November 2005, ADF filed a civil rights lawsuit on behalf of four Christian student organizations (Alpha Gamma Omega, Alpha Delta Chi, Every Nation Campus Ministries at both San Diego State and Long Beach State) after they were denied official recognition by California State University officials on two different campuses because they would not agree to accept members and officers who disagree with their Christian beliefs and viewpoints. The Trustees of California State University, who adopt rules and regulations that govern all twenty three schools in the university system, passed a regulation that prohibits campuses from recognizing student groups that discriminate on the basis of religion, marital status, and sexual orientation. Thus, each campus is required to deny official recognition, and all the benefits, rights, and privileges pertaining thereto, to any Christian group that requires its members to profess faith in Jesus Christ or that excludes individuals from membership who engage in sexual activity outside of marriage.
Jonathan Lopez is a student at Los Angeles City College, a college in the Los Angeles Community College District. During the fall 2008 semester, College officials censored Mr. Lopez’s public expression and then retaliated against him for reporting the censorship. When delivering a speech in a public speaking class pursuant to an open-ended assignment, Mr. Lopez discussed his Christian faith and read the dictionary definition of marriage as being between a man and woman. Upon hearing this, Professor John Matteson silenced Mr. Lopez in the middle of his speech. Professor Matteson refused to allow Mr. Lopez to finish his assignment, publicly accused him of being a “fascist bastard,” and refused to give him a grade for the assignment, telling him instead to “ask God” for his grade. Mr. Lopez reported these actions to Dean Allison Jones, who took no public action to correct the censorship. When Professor Matteson saw Mr. Lopez reporting the incident to Jones, he told Mr. Lopez that he would find a way to get him expelled. When Mr. Lopez complained again to Dean Jones and College President Jamillah Moore, they took no action to protect his constitutional rights and instead accused him of engaging in hateful propaganda. Dean Jones and President Moore made these allegations based on the District’s vague and overbroad speech code. This speech code is enforced, in part, through a system of reporting that encourages students to file complaints about their fellow students whenever those students utter words or engage in actions deemed subjectively “offensive” or “harassing.” Attorneys with the ADF Center for Academic Freedom filed suit on Mr. Lopez’s behalf in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California on February 11, 2009.
Steve Macias is student body president at Sacramento City College during the 2009-2010 school year. At the beginning of the College’s fall 2009 semester, the Genocide Awareness Project (GAP) sought permission to participate in the College’s Constitution Day on September 17, 2009. The College’s Constitution Day is a yearly tradition when the Associated Student Government distributes copies of the Constitution to students and invites speakers to address the importance of our Nation’s social contract. ASG voted to include the following off-campus groups in the festivities: the Laotian Community Development Center; Paul Smith, a political candidate running for Congress; Craig DeLuz; and GAP. ASG members did not inquire into what kind of organization GAP is, but simply approved its request to erect a display on campus on September 16 – 17. On September 16, one of the ASG advisor and another university official asked Mr. Macias if the GAP display was put together by the ASG. Mr. Macias told them that GAP asked to participate in Constitution Day, which the ASG approved. One of the officials said that the event would have been okay if ASG had also invited Planned Parenthood to campus, but that GAP could not stay. The officials instructed Mr. Macias to remove GAP from campus immediately. Mr. Macias refused to do so because he knew that he could not censor GAP because of the viewpoint or content of its speech. When it became apparent that Mr. Macias would not comply with these requests to censor GAP, the officials told Mr. Macias that GAP needed to turn its displays around so that students do not see them. Mr. Macias informed the officials that GAP was permitted to be on campus, but that he would relay the College’s concerns to GAP personnel. Mr. Macias then spoke with GAP personnel. GAP refused to move because of its constitutional right to speak on the campus. On September 22, 2009, Mr. Macias learned of an effort to recall him as ASG President, led by the Queer Straight Alliance (QSA) and Equality California, an off-campus organization in favor of same-sex marriage. On October 12, 2009, Mr. Macias read in the College newspaper that a recall vote had been scheduled for October 20-21; however, the validation of the recall signatures violated the ASG Constitution. On October 15, 2009, Mr. Macias sent a letter to the College president asking about the recall election. The following Monday, October 19, 2009, the recall election was cancelled. Nevertheless, the ASG Vice President called a special meeting of ASG for October 21, 2009 and posted the meeting’s agenda, but not its time, which violated California’s open meeting laws. Mr. Macias attended the October 21 meeting and informed the ASG that it could not convene a special meeting because the criteria for holding such meetings were not met. Despite this, the ASG advisor told the ASG that its meeting was legitimate, so the ASG continued the meeting. ASG voted to reset the recall vote for October 27-28, even though the proper procedures for the recall had still not been complied with by the ASG. The recall vote occurred on October 27-28, and on November 2, 2009, the ASG Senate passed an resolution attempting to suspend Mr. Macias’ presidential duties.
On October 17, 2006, College Republicans held an anti-terrorism rally on the campus of San Francisco State University (SFSU). Through this event, they wanted to educate fellow students about the effects of domestic and international terrorism, memorialize the victims of recent terroristic attacks, and prompt further conversation on the proper way to combat terrorist groups. To prepare for the rally, several members of College Republicans painted butcher paper to resemble the flags of Hezbollah and Hamas. At the rally, College Republican members stepped on the paper “flags” to mimic the way Hezbollah and Hamas protested the United States. Unbeknownst to College Republicans, both flags contained Arabic script representing the word “Allah.” When some students informed College Republicans of this, the script was blacked out. But even this did not pacify some. Several students threatened to attack members of College Republicans if they did not stop stepping on the paper flags. Over a week after the rally, a student filed a formal complaint with SFSU claiming that College Republicans had “incited violence,” created a “hostile environment,” and engaged in “actions of incivility.” The complaint was based on an SFSU and California State University System speech code policy that required all students to “be civil” to one another. In the ensuing weeks, other students complained that the rally was “offensive” and “disrespectful.” Although College Republicans simply exercised their First Amendment rights, SFSU conducted a five-month investigation into the group’s activity. The ADF Center for Academic Freedom filed suit on behalf of College Republicans against various officials of the California State University System and SFSU for retaliating against the students and violating their rights to free speech through the investigation and speech code. It moved for a preliminary injunction against the speech code.
June Sheldon was an adjunct faculty member in the biology department at San Jose City College in the San Jose/Evergreen Community College District. While teaching a Human Heredity course during the summer 2007 semester, Ms. Sheldon answered a student’s question about heredity and homosexual behavior. She noted the “nature versus nurture” debate on this issue and pointed the student to information contained in the course textbook and to the research of a well-known German scientist. Another student, offended by Ms. Sheldon’s answer, filed a complaint with the Dean of the Division of Math and Science at San Jose City College. The dean initiated an “investigation” that ended in Ms. Sheldon being removed from the seniority rehire preference list. The dean also recommended that Ms. Sheldon be terminated by the San Jose/Evergreen Community College District Board of Trustees. On February 12, 2008, the Board of Trustees terminated Ms. Sheldon based on what she said in the Human Heredity class, violating Ms. Sheldon’s First Amendment rights to free speech and academic freedom and denying her due process and equal protection of the law as guaranteed in the Fourteenth Amendment.
Ryan Dozier is a Christian and was a student at Yuba College in the Yuba Community College District. Between classes in February 2008, he went to the outdoor open area of campus to hold a sign and pass out Gospel tracts. The sign said, “Repent and Believe the Gospel,” on one side and, “Peace with God Only in Jesus Christ,” on the other. A District police officer approached the student and told him that he needed a permit to speak on campus, hold his sign, and pass out literature. He told Ryan that if he did not cease speaking he would be arrested for trespass and possibly expelled from the College. Mr. Dozier also received a certified letter from the College’s president warning him not to “create an assembly without a permit” or violate any other school policies, or else he would face discipline or expulsion. The District’s policy required students to apply for permission to speak on campus fourteen business days in advance of the planned activity and register any literature with the District forty-eight hours prior to distributing it. The District also restricted student speech to 12 p.m.– 1 p.m. on Tuesdays and Thursdays. Finally, the District had a speech code that prohibited student speech deemed subjectively “offensive.” On September 29, 2008, the ADF Center for Academic Freedom filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California on behalf of Mr. Dozier against officials of the Yuba Community College District for violations of the First and Fourteenth Amendments.
In March 2005, Justice for All submitted a request to officials at the University of Colorado at Boulder to use campus facilities for an outdoor pro-life exhibit. University officials denied Justice for All’s requested event date and location, Hellems Lawn, because they deemed the pro-life exhibit too “controversial.” Hellems Lawn is the most visible, high-traffic area on campus. Instead, the University assigned the group to a location that receives far less pedestrian traffic and was not large enough for the entire exhibit, forcing Justice for All members to set up only half of the display. Alliance Defense Fund attorneys attempted to resolve the situation by correspondence, but the University’s attorneys rebuffed their efforts. ADF attorneys filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado on April 25, 2005.
Pro-Life Ambassadors was a registered student organization at the University of Colorado-Boulder. PLA desired to display the Justice For All (JFA) pro-life exhibit at various locations on campus from April 13-16, 2009. PLA submitted a properly executed application to hold its event on the University campus. The University approved PLA’s application, but added several preconditions to approval: that University administrators needed to review the text and images of the display to determine if security would be needed for the event, and that PLA would have to pay all security charges for the event. The University had no standards to guide administrators in imposing security fees. The ADF Center for Academic Freedom sent a demand letter on behalf of PLA on April 3, 2009 stating that the precondition that PLA pay for security due to the nature of its message was an unconstitutional burden on PLA’s First Amendment rights.
Delaware State employs a “sexual harassment” policy that also implicates speech on sexual conduct and orientation, punishing students for causing “offense,” another policy prohibiting “insulting language,” and also prohibits “offensive utterances.” In all three cases, the policies apply simply based on the listener’s subjective offensive not on any objective measure of reasonableness and apply even if the offending comments do not interfere with the university’s educational mission at all. These policies violate the First Amendment standards set out in DeJohn v Temple University.
Three Florida residents, who are also members of the conservative organization Young Americans for Freedom, were prohibited from handing out information at the “free speech zones” of a number of PBSC campuses, with college officials citing their speech policies as authority by which to deny their free speech rights. College policy demands that speakers get permission to hand out materials 24 hours prior to distribution. But in practice, the situation is even worse. PBSC officials informed the YAF leader that they actually institute a total ban on literature distribution, making it difficult for YAF members to share their ideas through making free materials available to students who voluntarily accept them--and by speaking to those who are willing to converse with them. Earlier this fall, college officials stopped YAF from distributing Heritage Foundation reports on the federal “stimulus” bill.
Five students at Miami-Dade Community College attempted to hand out business cards with the message, “It’s the call you’ll never forget,” and the phone number to a local ministry. Campus security halted distribution and informed the students they were not permitted to pass out literature without prior approval from the Student Life Director. Approval had to be obtained one week prior to distribution. The policy cited by campus security did not have any guidelines for approving or disapproving the literature.
Beta Upsilon Chi is a Christian fraternity dedicated to establishing brotherhood and unity among college men based on the common bond of faith in Jesus Christ. To accomplish this, Beta Upsilon Chi holds Bible studies, accountability groups, service projects, fellowship activities, parties, evangelistic outreaches, and team athletic events for its members. The members and officers of Beta Upsilon Chi must profess faith in Jesus Christ, subscribe to the fraternity’s doctrinal statement, and adhere to its Code of Conduct (which features the Biblical standard for sexual morality). However, the University of Florida refused to recognize Beta Upsilon Chi, thereby denying it a wide range of privileges and services on campus that every other student organization receives. The University would not recognize Beta Upsilon Chi as a “Registered Student Organization” because the fraternity only accepts men. And it would not recognize Beta Upsilon Chi as a “Social Fraternity” because the fraternity only accepts Christians as members and officers. On July 10, 2007, the ADF Center for Academic Freedom and the Christian Legal Society filed suit on behalf of Beta Upsilon Chi against various officials from the University of Florida for violating its constitutional rights to free speech, free association, free exercise of religion, and equal protection under the law.
Georgia Tech had various speech code policies, which applied to students and student organizations and limited their ability to express views on topics that the Institute deemed “intolerant.” Georgia Tech also limited the locations on its huge campus where students could engage in free speech to certain tiny “speech zones” and refused to give student activity funds to student organizations that engaged in “religious activities.” The Institute also operated a program called “Safe Space," which actually promoted some religions over others while denigrating religions that believe that homosexual behavior is immoral. “Safe Space” went so far as to instruct students on the “correct” interpretation of the Bible with respect to homosexual behavior. On March 16, 2006, the ADF Center for Academic Freedom filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia against Georgia Tech, alleging that the Institute’s policies violate the First Amendment.
Savannah State administrators revoked official recognition for Commissioned II [“to”] Love Discipleship Ministries, a Christian ministry, due to alleged hazing violations. According to administrators, this hazing occurred when the ministry held a foot washing ceremony in a discipleship retreat. Such a ceremony follows the example of Christ, who washed the feet of His disciples in an example of service, love, and humility. This resulted in the student group’s complete loss of access to the campus for any activities. On March 2, 2007, the ADF Center for Academic Freedom and the National Litigation Foundation filed suit against Savannah State University officials in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Georgia, alleging violations of the First Amendment.
Beta Upsilon Chi is a Christian fraternity dedicated to establishing brotherhood and unity among college men based on the common bond of faith in Jesus Christ. To accomplish this, it holds Bible studies, accountability groups, service projects, fellowship activities, parties, evangelistic outreaches, and team athletic events for its members. The members and officers of Beta Upsilon Chi must profess faith in Jesus Christ, subscribe to the fraternity’s doctrinal statement, and adhere to its Code of Conduct (which features the Biblical standard for sexual morality). University of Georgia administrators refused to recognize Beta Upsilon Chi because it violated the University’s nondiscrimination policy. Under this policy, the University would not recognize any student organization that discriminated on the basis of religion, among other things. Because of the fraternity’s religious qualifications for members and leaders, the University refused to recognize it, thus depriving it of benefits and privileges that belong to every other student organization. On December 5, 2006, the Christian Legal Society, the ADF Center for Academic Freedom, and Liberty Legal Institute filed suit against the University of Georgia alleging that the University’s nondiscrimination policy violated Beta Upsilon Chi’s First Amendment rights of free association, free expression, free speech, and free exercise of religion, as well as the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.
The Christian Legal Society (CLS) at the University of Iowa College of Law is a student chapter of the national Christian Legal Society, whose purposes include fellowship, promoting justice and religious liberty, Biblical conflict resolution, and discipling and nurturing Christian law students. In early 2004, the University denied CLS official recognition as a student group because University officials alleged that CLS violated the University’s non-discrimination policy by requiring members and leaders to adhere to a statement of faith.
The Christian Legal Society (CLS) at the University of Idaho College of Law (UI) is a student chapter of the national Christian Legal Society, whose purposes include fellowship, promoting justice and religious liberty, Biblical conflict resolution, and discipling and nurturing Christian law students. In April 2001, CLS submitted a request for funding to the UI Student Bar Association Council. The Council denied CLS’s request for funding on the grounds that the group’s policy of requiring all officers and voting members to adhere to the CLS statement of faith constituted “discrimination” on account of religion.
For almost ten years, Dr. Kenneth J. Howell taught Introduction to Catholicism (and other classes) in the Department of Religion at the University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign, consistently earning excellent—or even outstanding—marks on his student evaluations. In his class on May 3, 2010, he delivered a lecture outlining Catholic teaching regarding homosexual behavior, explaining how the Church distinguishes between same-sex attraction and homosexual conduct. He outlined how the Catholic Church teaches that homosexual conduct is morally wrong, framing the issue in the context of natural moral law. Though he covered this material in every semester, this lecture sparked an unprecedented reaction from students. So the next day, he sent the class an e-mail to help students understand how different moral systems would evaluate homosexual conduct. In the following weeks, Dr. Howell’s e-mail was circulated to various students, offices, and organizations within the University, often by people who were not even in his class. As a result, the University relieved him of his teaching responsibilities, without even giving him the opportunity to defend himself or explain his remarks. On July 12, 2010, the ADF Center for Academic Freedom sent the University a letter explaining that the First Amendment protects Dr. Howell’s right to teach Catholic doctrine in a class about Catholic doctrine. And it prohibits the University from removing him from the classroom simply because his speech was controversial.
Christine Mize was a first year student pursuing a master’s degree in social work at Southern Illinois University (SIU). One of her class assignments was to develop an eight-week group therapy plan. Mize chose to focus on post-abortion syndrome. She wanted to include some faith-based interventions in her counseling plan, but her professor threatened to lower her grade if she included the religious materials. She then contacted the American Center for Law and Justice (ACLJ), which provided her with a letter on religious censorship at SIU. Though she eliminated the religious material from her therapy plan, she turned in a copy of the ACLJ letter along with paper. As a result, the professor refused to acknowledge, read, or grade her therapy plan, and she received an “incomplete” in the class. On March 7, 2007, the ADF Center for Academic Freedom sent a demand letter to SIU Department of Social Work Chair Dr. Mizanur Miah.
The Christian Legal Society (CLS) at Southern Illinois University School of Law is a student chapter of the national Christian Legal Society, whose purposes include fellowship, promoting justice and religious liberty, Biblical conflict resolution, and discipling and nurturing Christian law students. In February 2005, a University official informed CLS that a student had filed a complaint with the University, claiming that CLS’s membership and leadership policies violated a university policy requiring student organizations to adhere to all appropriate federal or state nondiscrimination laws. In response to this complaint, the University revoked CLS’s registered status in March 2005. It claimed CLS’s policies violated the “Southern Illinois University-Carbondale [SIUC] Affirmative Action/Equal Employment Policy” as well as a Policy of the Southern Illinois University Board of Trustees that required all recognized student organizations to “adher[e] to all appropriate federal or state laws concerning nondiscrimination and equal opportunity.” The University proceeded to strip the chapter of all benefits associated with registered status. CLS filed a lawsuit against Southern Illinois University, claiming that its “nondiscrimination” policy violated the First Amendment.
The Christian Legal Society (CLS) at Washburn University College of Law is a student chapter of the national Christian Legal Society, whose purposes include fellowship, promoting justice and religious liberty, Biblical conflict resolution, and discipling and nurturing Christian law students. In the fall of 2005, CLS was suspended by the Student Bar Association after a student filed a complaint alleging that CLS violated the University’s non-discrimination policy by requiring members and officers to sign a statement of faith. The Christian Legal Society filed suit in order to protect the chapter’s constitutional rights.
UMass requires students holding a “rally” to get permission 48 hours in advance – placing no guidelines on the authority of administrators to grant or deny permission. But if a rally is deemed “controversial” by the administration, permission must be sought 7 days in advance. Those holding a “controversial” rally must also designate 6 of their own students to form a security force for the event. And “rallies” are only permitted on the steps at the Student Union building. UMass’s speech policies are so problematic that they “earned” the school FIRE’s Speech Code of the Year for 2010.
Rock for Life-UMBC is a registered student organization at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County. When Rock for Life-UMBC attempted to hold a pro-life display on campus in April 2007, UMBC officials moved the display to an undesirable, nearly deserted area of campus under a policy that grants them unbridled discretion to move events without notice, resulting in blatant viewpoint discrimination. The UMBC officials also informed Rock for Life-UMBC that any similar future events will also be assigned to this nearly deserted area. UMBC also has a speech code. On April 2, 2008, the ADF Center for Academic Freedom filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Maryland on behalf of Rock for Life-UMBC against officials at the University of Maryland, Baltimore County for various First and Fourteenth Amendment violations.
Julea Ward is a graduate student at Eastern Michigan University's (EMU) School of Counseling. Ms. Ward is also a Christian who derives her fundamental beliefs and moral values from the Bible. The EMU counseling department requires students to affirm or validate homosexual conduct (specifically, homosexual sex) within the context of a counseling relationship and prohibits students from advising clients that they can refrain from homosexual conduct. Ms. Ward’s and EMU’s contrary views came to a head when Ms. Ward enrolled for the counseling practicum course in January 2009. During the practicum, counseling students, like Ms. Ward, counsel clients under the supervision of EMU faculty. The third client assigned to Ms. Ward was seeking counseling regarding a homosexual relationship. Ms. Ward asked whether she should see the client and refer him if necessary or refer the client to a different counselor prior to the initial appointment. EMU told Ms. Ward to have the client referred to a different counselor. Shortly thereafter, EMU initiated disciplinary proceedings against Ms. Ward. At an informal review meeting, EMU told Ms. Ward that the only way she could stay in the program was if she agreed to undergo a “remediation” program in which she would “see the error of her ways” and change her “belief system” as it relates to counseling about homosexual conduct to be consistent with EMU’s views on that matter. If Ms. Ward did not agree to undergo such reprogramming of her beliefs, her “options” were to leave the program voluntarily or to ask for a formal review hearing that would likely result in her expulsion from the program. Ms. Ward was unwilling to change her fundamental religious beliefs and views regarding homosexual behavior or to violate those beliefs by affirming and validating homosexual conduct within a counseling relationship, and so she requested a formal review hearing. The formal review committee dismissed Ms. Ward from the program on March 12, 2009. Ms. Ward appealed this decision to Defendant Polite, Dean of the College of Education, who upheld the dismissal on March 26, 2009.
In the summer of 2010, Students for Life issued an invitation to Dr. Alveda King, niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr., to come to the UM campus to speak. Before the event, hearing that there would be protesters, campus security (DPS) informed the club that security would be present at the event, and that the group would be required to pay for it. The group was surprised and concerned, because they had not requested the security, nor did they have the money to pay for it. At no point had anyone threatened violence or any sort of disruptive protest. On October 7, 2010, 250 students attended Dr. King's Lecture. Several protesters attended, sitting quietly throughout the speech with messages written on notebook paper affixed to their shirts. The protesters also asked one question during the question and answer portion of the speech. Several DPS officers were present. On October 19, 2010, DPS emailed the Students for Life club and asked them to pay $817.27 for the officers on duty. On January 19, 2011 DPS emailed Students for Life, once again asking for the money. Students for Life did not have the funds to pay this fee. On February 7, DPS told Students for Life that they would take the money from the group's account if they had not heard from the group.
Wayne State University Students for Life (SFL) is a recognized student organization at Wayne State University. The University requires all students to pay a mandatory student activity fee, a portion of which is allocated to student organizations to fund their activities. University policy prohibits student fees from being used for religious and political expression. Although SFL is not a religious student organization, the Student Council refused to fund its Pro-Life Week 2008 event because it included “spiritual and religious references.” Upon removing those elements from the Pro-Life Week, the Student Council still refused to fund the event because it would be “offensive” to women. Further, when SFL submitted an application to reserve space in the student center for an activity held during Pro-Life Week, the University refused to allow them access to the facilities because the event was “unsuitable” for the student center. On July 23, 2008, the ADF Center for Academic Freedom filed suit on behalf of Wayne State University Students for Life in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan.
Maranatha Christian Fellowship is a student organization at the University of Minnesota. In 2003, members learned that University policy required all student groups to sign the University’s non-discrimination statement before being allowed to register, meet on campus, or be eligible for student fees. This statement, in effect, prohibited Christian groups from requiring their officers and members to be Christians. ADF attorneys filed a lawsuit challenging this unconstitutional policy on October 24, 2003.
Missouri State University administrators and faculty forced Emily Brooker, a student, to participate in lobbying the state legislature to allow adoption by same-sex couples as a part of her course requirements for a degree in social work. When Ms. Brooker refused to lobby for same-sex adoption because of her Christian beliefs, University officials trumped up academic charges against her without even giving her adequate notice of those charges. As a result, Ms. Brooker was required to write a paper and sign a contract stating that she would conform her religious beliefs to the ethical and social ideology of the University and of the social work profession. On October 30, 2006, the ADF Center for Academic Freedom filed suit against Missouri State University alleging that University officials had violated Ms. Brooker’s First Amendment rights of free expression and religious freedom, the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment, and the Missouri Religious Freedom Restoration Act.
Ryan Cooper was a student at Southwest Missouri State University and a leader of Young Americans for Freedom (“YAF”), a conservative student group on campus. YAF applied for official recognition from the University and was rejected because the group opposed the University’s policies restricting free speech. University officials also prohibited Cooper and YAF from distributing a student newspaper anywhere on campus except the University’s free speech zone.
The Christian Legal Society (CLS) chapter at the University of Montana School of Law (UM) exists to encourage Christian law students to grow in their faith and integrate it with their profession, to urge other students to investigate the claims of Christ, and to be a Christian voice on campus. To accomplish these goals, it requires its voting members and leaders to affirm basic Biblical doctrine and to live by those standards. While CLS welcomes all individuals to its meetings and events, voting members must sign a statement of faith showing that they hold certain beliefs common to both Protestants and Catholics. And they must agree to live by Biblical moral teachings, including the belief that all sexual conduct outside of a traditional marriage—including homosexual conduct—is immoral. In June 2007, CLS applied to the Student Bar Association (SBA) for recognition as an official student organization. SBA granted CLS temporary recognition and submitted CLS’s proposed budget to the student body for approval. Students and faculty objected to the fact that CLS was included in the budget because of its religious and moral standards, and the student body rejected its budget completely. After this, the SBA derecognized CLS, saying that its religious and moral standards violated the SBA’s policies against discrimination on the basis of “religion” and “sexual orientation.”
Before he became a Christian, Dr. Mike Adams was the rising star in the University of North Carolina-Wilmington’s (“UNCW”) Department of Sociology and Criminology. As a liberal and an atheist, he received a steady stream of accolades from colleagues and supervisors alike. But when he became a Christian and a conservative, everything changed. He became the target of numerous, intrusive investigations on campus, even though the charges were clearly fraudulent. One of his supervisors reprimanded him for the outspoken conservative views he highlights in his nationally syndicated columns. Everything culminated in 2006 when Dr. Adams applied for promotion to full professor and for tenure. Though he excelled in all three areas of evaluation, the chair and senior faculty of his department refused to promote him to full professor because of his religious and political views.
Alpha Iota Omega, a Christian men’s fraternity, notified the University of North Carolina (UNC) in September 2003 that it would no longer subscribe to UNC’s Non-Discrimination and Sexual Orientation policies where those policies conflicted with AIO’s requirement that all of its members and officers adhere to a Christian statement of faith and conform to certain standards of conduct. Although UNC officially recognized the fraternity several years earlier, it responded to AIO by withdrawing official recognition because AIO was determined to stand by its beliefs about Christianity and moral conduct. Official recognition at UNC provides student organizations with many benefits, including use of school facilities, use of the University’s name, and access to funding from student activity fees.
The University of North Dakota refused to grant the Christian Medical and Dental Association (CMDA) chapter status as a recognized student organization, which prevented the group from getting funding and publicizing meetings. The University repeatedly rejected the CMDA chapter’s application for recognition because the group required its officers and members to adhere to orthodox Christian beliefs, including the Bible’s prohibition of homosexual conduct.
Rutgers has a “bias incident” policy that encourages students to report such “incidents” of student speech that “malign” or “offend” a person on the basis of religion, gender, or sexual orientation (among others). The offense is subjectively determined and the speech need not actually interfere with education. Moreover, the university has placed its “Center for Social Justice Education and LGBTQ Communities” in charge of reviewing these “bias incidents.” The Rutgers policy lacks the protections for student speech required by the Third Circuit’s decision in DeJohn v. Temple University.
In the fall of 2002, Rutgers University denied InterVarsity Multi-Ethnic Christian Fellowship official recognition because the group failed to include the University’s non-discrimination policy in its constitution. Instead, InterVarsity wanted to be able to choose leaders who abide by their religious beliefs, but Rutgers decided this would be discriminatory. However, including the non-discrimination statement would effectively cripple the group’s ability to function because InterVarsity would be required to accept members and leaders who held views contrary to the group’s purpose. Then-ADF allied attorney David French filed suit against the University in the U.S. District Court for the District of New Jersey on December 30, 2002.
The Christian Legal Society (CLS) at the University of New Mexico School of Law is a student chapter of the national Christian Legal Society, whose purposes include fellowship, promoting justice and religious liberty, Biblical conflict resolution, and discipling and nurturing Christian law students. In late 2001, the University denied CLS official recognition as a student group because University officials alleged that CLS violated the University’s non-discrimination policy by requiring members and leaders to adhere to a statement of faith.
In the fall of 2005, Tammy Snyder, a student at North Country Community College in Saranac Lake, New York, wanted to form a Christian student group. The student activities coordinator told her that she needed to solicit five members by posting flyers or by placing an ad in the newspaper. Ms. Snyder posted flyers advertising her club on three separate occasions, but each time, campus officials promptly took them down, claiming that because of the so-called “separation of church and state,” she would not be allowed to form a religious student club. ADF attorneys sent a letter to the College’s president and other officials, informing them that denying Ms. Snyder the opportunity to form a religious student club was unconstitutional and requesting that they allow her to do it.
In 2001, International Christian Fellowship (ICF) at the State University of New York at Oswego was denied official student group recognition by the University because administrators alleged that ICF violated the University’s non-discrimination policy by requiring members and officers to subscribe to its statement of spiritual belief. Classification as a student association organization entitled the group to funding from the student association, as well as other benefits. An ADF allied attorney sent a demand letter to protect ICF’s constitutional rights.
In January 2004, Joy Taylor, a student at the State University of New York-Albany, was denied transfer credit for four classes from Baptist Bible College. University officials stated that no transfer credit will be awarded for courses that are “sectarian theology courses.” In April 2004, ADF attorneys sent a letter to the University requesting that the credits be evaluated for transfer credit without regard to their “sectarian” nature.
The State University of New York-Albany (SUNY-Albany) required each student to pay a mandatory student activity fee every semester. The fee is used to fund student organization expression on campus. However, in allocating the fee to student organizations, the Student Association used a referendum system whereby students voted on which groups should receive funding. More popular, leftist groups received the lion’s share of funding. An ADF allied attorney represented students who challenged SUNY-Albany’s referendum system as violating their right to freedom of speech.
The Young Americans for Freedom group sought funding from the Student Government at Stony Brook University, but was denied on the basis that it is “very similar to the College Republicans," even though they are a non-partisan group who has members from different political parties. Additionally, if any group wants to receive funding, they must solicit signatures from 5% of the student body (roughly 800 signatures.)
The Students for Life group at University at Buffalo submitted its application for recognition in May 2010. Ten months later, they still had not received recognition. While the student association provided numerous (unconvincing) excuses for the delay, the bottom line was this: every day the student association withheld recognition from the Students for Life group was another day the group’s pro-life message was silenced, and its constitutional rights violated.
Campus Bible Fellowship (“CBF”) had been a recognized student club at Wright State University (“WSU”) for over thirty years until January 2009. WSU denied CBF recognition in January for two reasons. First, the club insisted that its voting members—those who exercise control over the group’s religious mission and message on campus—be Christians who agree with CBF’s Articles of Faith. Second, the club refused to include certain terms (like “religion” and “gender identity/expression”) in the nondiscrimination language WSU required it to include in its club constitution, to the extent that inclusion of those terms would prevent the group from following its Christian beliefs.
The Christian Legal Society (CLS) at The Ohio State University College of Law (OSU) is a student chapter of the national Christian Legal Society, whose purposes include fellowship, promoting justice and religious liberty, Biblical conflict resolution, and discipling and nurturing Christian law students. OSU policy required that all student groups adopt a non-discrimination policy that would prevent a group from denying membership or leadership positions to students on the basis of religion or sexual orientation, among other things. In 2003, OSU de-recognized CLS and barred the group from the privileges of being an approved club. OSU took these actions because another student group filed a complaint that CLS violated OSU’s non-discrimination policy by requiring members and officers to profess faith in Jesus Christ and to exhibit a lifestyle consistent with orthodox Christian doctrine.
Miami University of Ohio used an unconstitutional two-tiered system to appropriate funding. Religious groups were funded from a “Marketplace of Ideas Fund." Approximately fifty groups were funded from this fund of about $10,000. Non-religious groups, numbering approximately a hundred, were funded from the “General Fund” of $350,000. Monies from the General Fund were appropriated with great discretion granted to the student organization as to the use of the funds. The student groups receiving monies from the “Marketplace of Ideas Fund” were required to justify all expenses and were forbidden from using funds to proselytize. An ADF allied attorney filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the District of Ohio on behalf of students at the University.
Scott Savage was a librarian at the Bromfield Library at Ohio State University-Mansfield. As an employee, he was on a committee of faculty who selected first-year reading experience titles for the library. During the committee meeting in February 2006, Mr. Savage suggested The Marketing of Evil by David Kupelian. However, several committee members and faculty felt this was “anti-gay” and “homophobic” reading material. Later, the faculty held a special session to vote on whether Mr. Savage’s suggestion was in violation of the University’s sexual harassment disciplinary code for discrimination. Although the faculty did not find him in violation, two homosexual professors made a complaint with the Office of Human Resources that Mr. Savage harassed them. The University conducted an investigation and requested an interview with him. In March 2006, the ADF Center for Academic Freedom sent two demand letters on Mr. Savage’s behalf.
The Christian Legal Society (CLS) at the University of Toledo College of Law (UT) is a student chapter of the national Christian Legal Society, whose purposes include fellowship, promoting justice and religious liberty, Biblical conflict resolution, and discipling and nurturing Christian law students. In January 2005, CLS adopted the most recent chapter constitution required by CLS national and submitted it to the Office of Student Activities at UT. The Assistant Director of Student Activities reviewed the constitution and told the CLS students that he would not approve it unless they removed all Scripture references and included the required nondiscrimination language (i.e., that the group would not discriminate based on religion, creed, and sexual orientation, etc. in selecting members and leaders). The Assistant Director of Student Activities also gave the CLS chapter a sample constitution and told the students that they must “fix” their constitution by the end of March 2005 or the group would be de-recognized. CLS sent two letters to UT to try to resolve the situation but received no response.
Campus Bible Fellowship (“CBF”) had been a recognized student club at Wright State University (“WSU”) for over thirty years until January 2009. WSU denied CBF recognition in January for two reasons. First, the club insisted that its voting members—those who exercise control over the group’s religious mission and message on campus—be Christians who agree with CBF’s Articles of Faith. Second, the club refused to include certain terms (like “religion” and “gender identity/expression”) in the nondiscrimination language WSU required it to include in its club constitution because including those terms would prevent the group from following its Christian beliefs.
Rick Thomas was a student at the University of Oklahoma and was the editor of The Beacon, a student newspaper with a Christian perspective. In order to cover their printing and circulation costs, the group applied for student fee funding like other student organizations. But it was awarded only $150, whereas the other campus newspaper received more than $4,000. The student committee responsible for allocating the funds cited a policy prohibiting the use of student funds for “religious services.” An ADF allied attorney, along with ADF attorneys, filed a lawsuit on behalf of Thomas in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Oklahoma on February 20, 2004.
OSU Students Alliance (OSUSA) is a registered student organization at Oregon State University that publishes The Liberty, an independent student paper. However, University officials targeted OSUSA’s student newspaper for a form of discriminatory treatment not extended to the other campus student newspaper, The Daily Barometer. Though the University permits The Daily Barometer’s numerous distribution bins to be located throughout campus with no apparent restriction, University officials surreptitiously confiscated the few distribution bins belonging to The Liberty, and threw them in a heap in a storage yard near a dumpster. When The Liberty’s staff eventually located their bins with the help of the Oregon State Police, they found one broken, and the rest covered with mud and debris, and full of ruined copies of their paper. After being found out, the University arbitrarily classified The Liberty (an exclusively student-operated, on-campus publication) as an “off-campus publication,” and disallowed it to place distribution bins anywhere on campus except the immediate vicinity of the student union. As a result, The Liberty is unable to reach many of the students on campus. On September 29, 2009, attorneys with the ADF Center for Academic Freedom filed a lawsuit in federal district court against several University officials for violating OSUSA’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to freedom of speech, due process of law, and equal protection of law.
Cheyney prohibits “written words” or images that a listener views as “offensive” on the basis of gender, family status, marital status, religion, and other bases. This policy places the power of censorship of speech in the hands of the supposedly offended party. Cheyney’s Computer Use policy also prohibits “religiously offensive” or “annoying” emails – again, viewed not from the perspective of a reasonable person but based on the subjective “offense” of the complaining party and without regard to any actual interference with education. These policies violate the clear and controlling First Amendment standards set out in DeJohn v. Temple University.
IUP’s sexual harassment policy operates as a speech code because it prohibits not only true sexual harassment but also any speech “of a sexual nature” (including speech concerning sexual conduct and orientation) that offends another student. The “offense” is viewed subjectively (what the offended party perceives) not objectively (what a reasonable person would be offended by and need not interfere with the university’s educational mission to be punishable. This violates the First Amendment standards for such policies set out by the Third Circuit Court of Appeals in DeJohn v. Temple University.
Westmoreland’s sexual harassment policy extends to speech on social conduct and orientation that a listener (or even one who overhears) may claim to be offended by. No objective standard is set out for reasonable offense and the policy extends to such speech even when it does not interfere with the school’s educational mission. This violates the First Amendment standards set out in DeJohn v Temple University.
Pennsylvania State University enacted policies that prohibited a student organization from considering the religious creed or sexual orientation of students attempting to become an officer in the student organization. DiscipleMakers Christian Fellowship, a faith-based student group affiliated with DiscipleMakers, Inc., challenged the policy on the basis that it violates the group’s rights to free association and free speech.
Pennsylvania State University refused to recognize DiscipleMakers Christian Fellowship, a faith-based student group affiliated with DiscipleMakers, Inc., as a registered student organization on the grounds that the purpose and function of the student group was duplicated by other registered student organizations. The University required all student organizations to be “unique.” The University determined there were too many Christian groups on campus. The Christian Legal Society filed a lawsuit against the University for refusing to recognize DiscipleMakers as a registered student group.
Pennsylvania State University enforced a speech code that prohibited students from engaging in speech, acts, attitudes, feelings, or beliefs that may harass another individual or group or may be seen as intolerant. Penn State’s policy even stated that “acts of intolerance will not be tolerated.” Penn State also limited student expression to a few small areas on campus through a speech zone policy and prohibited student organizations from receiving student activity fee funding if they engaged in religious advocacy or worship. A.J. Fluehr, a Penn State student, feared to speak in light of the threat of punishment under these policies. On February 22, 2006, the ADF Center for Academic Freedom filed a lawsuit on behalf of Mr. Fluehr.
Christian Fellowship was a recognized expressive student organization at Shippensburg University. As part of its purposes to serve as a witness for Jesus Christ on campus, Christian Fellowship desired to express theories, ideas, political, and/or religious beliefs on the subjects of race, gender, and religion from a Biblical viewpoint. However, the University's speech codes had a chilling effect on the rights of Christian Fellowship members’ to engage in appropriate discussions on these subjects freely and openly. University officials undermined free inquiry and the pursuit of knowledge by enacting vague and overbroad speech codes. Allegedly designed to stop "harassment," "intimidation," and "subordination," the University’s undefined and overly broad policies actually chilled free speech and discouraged diversity. The University enforced these codes in part through a system of reporting that required students to inform on their fellow students whenever those students said or did things that were subjectively considered "harass[ing]" or "intimidat[ing]." Further, the University re-enacted speech codes that the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania previously enjoined. The University even expelled Christian Fellowship because its leadership and membership requirements allegedly violated these speech codes. Attorneys with the ADF Center for Academic Freedom filed suit on behalf of Christian Fellowship in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania.
Christian DeJohn was a graduate student in military and American history at Temple University. During his time at Temple, he was called up by the Pennsylvania Army National Guard to serve in Bosnia. Upon return, Temple informed him that he was dismissed from the master’s program. He believes he was dismissed for making pro-military statements on the History Department listserv and in front of his professors. Althought he was reinstated as a student, the History Department would not approve his thesis (the final step before he can graduate). Mr. DeJohn was also unable to express his ideas fully in class and on campus because Temple also had an unconstitutional speech code, which chilled student expression on campus. The ADF Center for Academic Freedom filed suit on February 22, 2006.
The Christian Legal Society (CLS) at the University of South Carolina School of Law is a student chapter of the national Christian Legal Society, whose purposes include fellowship, promoting justice and religious liberty, Biblical conflict resolution, and discipling and nurturing Christian law students. The University charged all students a mandatory student activity fee, which funded student organizations and other campus activities. While most student organizations can compete for general funding, University policy specifically prohibited “religious organizations” from receiving any. In January 2008, CLS applied for student fee funding and was denied because it is a religious organization. On February 28, 2008, the Christian Legal Society and the ADF Center for Academic Freedom filed suit against officials at the University of South Carolina for violating CLS’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion.
A prolife nursing student, passionate in her desire to care for pregnant women, applied for a professional residency program at one of the nation's finest universities, Vanderbilt. To her shock, she discovered that Vanderbilt requires her to certify -- in writing -- that she would provide abortion services if asked. Vanderbilt receives well over $300 million in federal health tax dollars every year and its requirement blatantly violates federal law and common decency.
Pro-Life Collegians (PLC) is a registered student organization at Middle Tennessee State University. PLC desired to display the Justice For All (JFA) pro-life exhibit at various campus locations from March 17-18, 2010. But when they submitted a proper application for approval of the display, the University official stated that “[g]iven the history with events such as this,” approval would only be granted if the group paid for security for the event. The University had no written policy requiring security fees nor did it have any standards to guide administrators in imposing such fees. The ADF Center for Academic Freedom sent a demand letter on behalf of PLC on November 23, 2009 stating that the precondition that PLC pay for security due to the nature of its message was an unconstitutional burden on PLA’s First Amendment rights.
Mark Dew is a student at Pellissippi State Community College, who wanted to engage his fellow students by preaching and handing out Christian literature. The school stopped him, and told him that what he was doing was "solicitation." He either could speak once a week as an invited guest of a student organization, or he could pay a fee to speak as a non-student speaker.
Bethany Roden was a student at Tarrant County College in Texas. In the spring of 2008, she enrolled in English Composition II. As part of that class, the professor orally assigned the students to write a reader’s response (a.k.a., a personal essay) about a poem, and each student could either choose one poem or several poems by one poet. Either way, they were to explain both the poet’s message and their personal reaction to it. Aside from instructing students not to uses sources like Wikipedia, the professor placed no limits on the subjects or perspectives students could include in their personal reactions. Ms. Roden completed two assignments, one analyzing a poem by Elizabeth Barrett Browning and another analyzing a poem by George Linnaeus Banks. Both poems involved religious themes, including love, God, and the divine, so Roden’s analysis included references to her religious faith and scripture from the Bible. When Ms. Roden received her graded assignment back for the Browning poem, she found that the professor circled the scripture and wrote, “This does not count as academic text,” and deducted six points from the paper. When Ms. Roden received her graded assignment back for the Banks poem, the professor similarly circled Roden’s use of the word “God” and deducted six points. When the professor discussed the papers in class, she highlighted the issue of religious content in personal response essays. While looking directly at Ms. Roden and the other student, the professor commented that the students should have already learned in prior classes that they could not express their religious beliefs in their essays. On July 14, 2008, attorneys with the ADF Center for Academic Freedom wrote a demand letter to Tarrant County College and requested that it correct the professor’s unconstitutional censorship of Ms. Roden’s religious views by adding the deducted points back into her grade.
Freshmen Leaders in Christ is a recognized student organization at Texas A&M University. On May 27, 2009, the University’s Department of Student Activities sent a letter to FLiC informing the group that its constitution met all the required components for recognition except for the membership provision, which restricts membership to “all freshman at Texas A&M University who declare themselves as Christian, are following Christ in their Christian walks, and whose desire is to serve others as a way of following Christ’s example of leadership.” The University argued that this provision violated Student Rule 41.1.7, which stated that “Student organizations must be open in their membership unless otherwise permitted under applicable federal law.” FLiC limited its membership to Christians to maintain and preserve its religious mission and expression on campus. The University had determined that FLiC’s membership criteria did not “meet the standards of applicable federal law.” During the summer, FLiC attempted to resolve the membership issue with the University, but the University refused to allow FLiC to define its membership based on Christian faith. The University called FLiC’s membership too “restrictive” and that because federal law forbids discrimination based on “religion,” FLiC’s membership criteria violated Student Rule 41.1.7. If FLiC lost its recognized status, it would have been denied access to innumerable avenues of communication that allow student organizations to get their message out and recruit new members, including a free group website, access to permits for campus speech, eligibility to apply for office space, use of university facilities, and eligibility to apply for funding. On July 22, 2009, the ADF Center for Academic Freedom sent a demand letter to the University stating that its refusal to recognize FLiC as a student organization violated FLiC’s First Amendment right to associate freely with likeminded students.
Jason Roberts was a law student at Texas Tech University Law School. In May 2003, he filed a grounds use request application for a speech event to discuss his views about the immorality and health risks associated with homosexuality. Texas Tech denied his request and explained that such speech is “more appropriate” for the small, designated “free speech gazebo” on Texas Tech’s campus. Texas Tech also had a speech code. ADF attorneys filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Texas on June 12, 2003.
In the fall of 2001, the Pro-Life Cougars, a student group at the University of Houston, invited an organization called Justice for All (JFA) to participate in an outdoor pro-life display on campus. The University refused to allow JFA’s exhibit on the main part of campus because it found the pro-life message (with pictures of babies at various stages of development) to be “potentially disruptive” according to University policy. University officials would only allow the exhibit to take place on the fringes of campus. ADF attorneys filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas on January 22, 2002.
Justice for All, a student organization at the University of Texas at Austin, was denied permission during a pro-life display to distribute a flier that said, “Life is Beautiful—Choose Life,” on campus because it did not include the name of the student organization. The University also had a problematic speech zone policy. ADF attorneys filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Texas on October 2, 2002. The University changed the speech zone policy but continued to defend the ban on anonymous speech. The district court ruled in favor of the students and entered a permanent injunction against the policy on March 3, 2004. The University appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit.
In spring of 2002, the University of Texas-Pan American prohibited Chi Alpha, a student group at the University, from hosting a guest speaker because the group intended to pray, worship, and have an invitation to come to Christ at the event.
Robert Simpson, a student at the University of Mary Washington, wanted to start a Christian student group. The University required all student groups to agree to a nondiscrimination policy in order to be recognized by and thereby receive student fee funding from the University. This essentially would require student groups to permit individuals who do not share the beliefs around which the group is organized to be part of or lead the group. The University also denied recognition to any student group that is religious or political in nature.
The University of Virginia had a Student Activity Fund, made up of mandatory student fees, which was used to fund a wide range of student groups and publications. However, the funding policy denied funding for any religious activity. University officials denied funds to Wide Awake, a Christian student newspaper, based on its Christian viewpoint. Attorneys filed suit on behalf of the student organizer of Wide Awake in 1992.
Beth Sheeran was a student at Spokane Falls Community College in the Community Colleges of Spokane district. She was also actively involved in Spokane Falls Christian Fellowship, a student organization at SFCC. In January 2009, Ms. Sheeran and the Spokane Falls Christian Fellowship wanted to hold a pro-life event at the College on the anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The event consisted of passing out flyers and putting up a few posters in the student center display case, which was available for use by all student organizations. However, upon applying for permission to hold the event, SFCC refused to allow it. SFCC administrators told Ms. Sheeran and Spokane Falls Christian Fellowship that their pro-life display was “offensive” and “discriminatory” and said that they were required to also present the opposite point of view during the event. Even after the anniversary date passed, when Ms. Sheeran and Spokane Falls Christian Fellowship persisted in requesting permission to hold the event, SFCC told them it was “biased” and that if they held the event they could be expelled from SFCC for “discriminating” or “offending” someone. SFCC had several speech restrictive policies that not only required students to obtain prior approval to distribute flyers, but also required approval from their student organization advisor and thirty days notice to host a speaker on campus and a requirement that opposing points of view be presented during all events. SFCC also maintained a speech code that prohibited any “discriminatory” or “offensive” speech and a program entitled “Stop the Hate” that encouraged students to report “bias incidents” committed by their peers to a Bias Incident Response Team. Attorneys with the ADF Center for Academic Freedom filed a lawsuit on behalf of Ms. Sheeran in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Washington on March 9, 2009.
In fall 2002, the University of Washington and Eastern Washington University prohibited Carolyn Harrison and Rene Penhallurick respectively from student teaching at religious schools. Both students were required by their degree standards to complete student teaching hours in order to obtain their credentials from their universities. Eastern Washington University would not allow Penhallurick to student teach at a religious school because the University claimed that the “Blaine Amendment” in Washington’s constitution allegedly required the state to maintain the so-called “separation of church and state” very strictly. ADF allies at the Institute for Justice filed a lawsuit challenging the legitimacy of the Blaine Amendment and asserting that the University policy infringed upon the free exercise rights of the teachers.
The University of Wisconsin-Superior refused to recognize the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship chapter because it required leaders to agree with the national organization’s statement of faith (known as the Doctrinal Basis). Both the University of Wisconsin System and the University of Wisconsin-Superior had a general nondiscrimination statement that prohibited “religious discrimination,” among other things. On October 2, 2006, the ADF Center for Academic Freedom filed suit against the University of Wisconsin System alleging that the nondiscrimination policies trampled First Amendment rights and defied controlling court decisions.
The University of Wisconsin requires students to pay mandatory student fees, which are used to fund campus organizations that advocate many different ideas. The University’s funding policies allowed the student government leaders to distribute student funds in any way they saw fit, and thus, some groups were denied funding simply because student leaders disagreed with the viewpoint or content of the groups’ speech. The fees were mandatory, and there was no opt-out or refund options for students who disagreed with the speech that their fees were being used to support. ADF attorneys filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on April 2, 1996 on behalf of Scott Southworth, a student at the University of Wisconsin-Madison.
Lance Steiger was a student and a resident assistant (RA) at the University of Wisconsin-Eau Claire. In the summer of 2005, the University informed all the RAs that they were not permitted to hold Bible studies anywhere in their dorms, including their own rooms. Mr. Steiger led Bible studies in his room during each of the four previous semesters that he was an RA. ADF attorneys filed a lawsuit on behalf of Mr. Steiger in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on November 30, 2005.
University of Wisconsin-Madison Roman Catholic Foundation (UWRCF) was a student organization that applied for student activity fee funding for the 2006-07 academic year. It was denied funding for a publication and other items because they were “too religious.” It appealed to the Student Judiciary, which reversed the funding decision and awarded them most of their budget request. The Freedom from Religion Foundation weighed in against the student group, sending a letter urging the Chancellor to deny the funding.
The University of Wisconsin-Madison Roman Catholic Foundation (UWRCF) was a student organization that was denied student activity fee funding for its activities in the 2006-07 academic year. That matter was resolved by a demand letter from the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. But shortly thereafter, the University refused to recognize UWRCF because its board of directors was not comprised primarily of students and because the University claimed it did not comply with the University’s nondiscrimination statement. Attorneys from the ADF Center for Academic Freedom determined (1) that the University illegally refused to recognize UWRCF and (2) that it had been discriminating against UWRCF in allocating student activity fees. Thus, on November 9, 2006, they filed a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin alleging that the University had violated both UWRCF’s rights to free association, free speech, and free exercise of religion, as well as its rights under the Due Process and Equal Protection Clauses of the Fourteenth Amendment.
Badger Catholic, Inc. (formerly Roman Catholic Foundation, UW-Madison, Inc.)is the currently recognized student organization that was involved in litigation against the University of Wisconsin-Madison (UW-Madison) from the fall of 2006 through the spring of 2007. Under the settlement agreement in that prior case, UW-Madison agreed to recognize Badger Catholic, to approve its 2007–2008 budget, and to review future budgets just as it would review budgets from other organizations (i.e., without considering Badger Catholic’s religious viewpoint). Beginning in June 2007, however, UW-Madison refused to reimburse Badger Catholic for certain events because they involved “prayer, worship, proselytizing, and the inculcation of values.” Based on this, it refused to reimburse Badger Catholic for approximately $30,000 in expenses. In August 2007, Badger Catholic again applied to the Student Services Finances Committee (SSFC) for eligibility to apply for student activity fees. Though the SSFC had given Badger Catholic eligibility in each of the last four years, it denied Badger Catholic this year saying that Badger Catholic failed to show that it provided a “significant additional component” in addition to “event programming” and “leadership development.” Yet no one at UW-Madison, including the students who administer the system, could explain what constitutes a “significant additional component.” But because it supposedly could not satisfy this vague criterion, Badger Catholic could not apply for student activity fees in the current budget cycle. On September 10, 2007, the ADF Center for Academic Freedom filed suit in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin on behalf of Badger Catholic.
For years, students graduating from the West Virginia University, Parkersburg nursing program had regularly included prayers in their pinning (i.e., graduation) ceremonies. And in mid-November, University officials told students that they needed to vote on three issues regarding their ceremony and that the majority vote would carry the day. One issue was whether to include an invocation and benediction, and the students voted overwhelmingly (40-to-4) to include them. So they selected someone—a student’s father—to deliver the prayers. But the University responded differently. Suddenly saying that a 100% vote was required, it banned all prayer from the ceremony. When pressed to explain this decision, the nursing director attributed the decision to the University’s president, vice president, and attorneys. Allegedly, the University had legal concerns, particularly potential lawsuits if someone were offended by the prayers.
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