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.
WIN. On June 24, 2008, CLS and the University reached a settlement. Under its terms, the University will adopt new rules that allows for the funding of all student organizations on equal terms.
Despite a 1995 United States Supreme Court decision finding that prohibiting religious student organizations from receiving student activity fees was unconstitutional, universities across the country have failed to bring their policies into compliance. All student organizations are entitled to access student fees on a viewpoint neutral basis.
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