Legal Challenges

ñ has been confronted with a new climate of opposition to our ministry on campus for more than twodecades, prompting us to respond with some difficult but necessary actions. As David French reports, in a, the first challenge came in 2000 on the campus of Tufts University.

In 2002 ñ filed suit against Rutgers University to defend the rights of our student chapter. On October 3, 2006, we filed action in federal court on behalf of ñ students at the University of Wisconsin-Superior after the chapter was derecognized. The August, 2006, disaffiliation of our chapters on the campus of Georgetown University was also a concern to us, although that was a completely different issue unrelated to the rest of these cases. We are pleased to report that the Rutgers University, UW-Superior, and Georgetown University situations were agreeably resolved and that ñ students in these chapters continue to be part of thriving, officially recognized, campus organizations.

In recent years there have been challenges at a number of additional schools, including:

  • The University of Iowa
  • Wayne State University
  • Indiana University
  • California State University system schools
  • Bowdoin College
  • Rollins College
  • SUNY Buffalo
  • Tufts University
  • University of Michigan
  • Vanderbilt University

In most but not all of these cases, agreement was reached so that ñ could remain on campus as a registered student organization. At Ohio State University, for instance, the student organization registration guidelines now state: “A student organization formed to foster or affirm the sincerely held religious beliefs of its members may adopt eligibility criteria for its Student Officers that are consistent with those beliefs.” However, at some schools — such as Vanderbilt, Rollins, Tufts, and Bowdoin — ñ's ministry has been forced off campus. ñ chapters on the California State University campuses were forced off campus for the 2014-2015 school year before the dispute was resolved and the chapters returned to campuses.

ñ continues to participate in a national discussion of the issues related to religious pluralism on campus, through its participation with the Aspen Institute and other organizations in .

The Legal Decision that Changed the Landscape

The number of campuses which have asked ñ to change our values and leadership standards is not a large number but it has been on the increase since the 2010 U.S. Supreme Court verdict in the case of Christian Legal Society v. Martinez. Since that decision, ñ's status as a recognized student organization has been challenged on more than 40 campuses (when a count was made in early 2012). ñ is currently tracking a number of campus access challenges, all of which involve university nondiscrimination policies limiting the freedom of ñ chapters to select leaders based on religious criteria.

Further reflection:

  • - Colorado Springs Gazette; July 9, 2018
  • - John Inazu, Library of Law and Liberty; September 15, 2014
  • - James Tonkowich, ReligionToday.com; September 11, 2014

Reflections from ñ Leaders

  • ; September 23, 2014
  • May 28, 2014
  • ; December 24, 2012
  • ; March 26, 2012

Reports from the Front Lines of the Campus Pluralism Debate

  • - The Federalist Society; November 11, 2019
  • - Elon News Network; March 1, 2019
  • - National Review; November 23, 2018
  • - InsideHigherEd.com; September 25, 2018
  • - The Sandspur; September 19, 2018
  • - Cedar Rapids Gazette; July 20, 2018
  • - The Daily Signal; February 15, 2017
  • - Real Clear Religion; October 20, 2016
  • - The Federalist; June 20, 2016
  • - Fourth Estate (page 3); September 14, 2015
  • - Congressman Frank Wolf/Deseret News; May 12, 2015
  • - Christian Post; May 9, 2015
  • - Christianity Today; May 6, 2015
  • - Religion News Service; May 5, 2015
  • - Baptist Press; May 5, 2015
  • - Library of Law & Liberty/Joseph Knippenberg; April 8, 2015
  • - First Things/George Marsden; February 2015
  • - Faculty Committee Report; January 6, 2015
  • - Biblical Recorder; December 1, 2014
  • - Rich Nathan; October 20, 2014
  • - Kirsten Powers & Jonathan Merritt in The Daily Beast; October 12, 2014
  • - John Inazu in Christianity Today; October 10, 2014
  • - Tish Harrison Warren in Christianity Today; August 22, 2014
    • - Matthew Lee Anderson, Mere Orthodoxy; August 26, 2014
    • - Rod Dreher; The American Conservative; August 26, 2014
    • - Rod Dreher, The American Conservative; August 27, 2014
    • - Bryan Fischer, Renew America; September 2, 2014
    • - Terry Mattingly; September 10, 2014
  • - Eric Metaxas, Breakpoint; August 12, 2014
  • - Owen Strachan, First Things; July 16, 2014
  • - Michael Paulson, New York Times; June 10, 2014
    • - Denver Post editorial; June 10, 2014
    • - Seth Mandel, Commentary; June 10, 2014
    • - Rod Dreher, The American Conservative; June 10, 2014
    • - Kevin Drum, Mother Jones; June 10, 2014
    • - ARISE TV network; June 10, 2014
    • - Dan Reidel, Chico Enterprise Record; June 11, 2014
    • - AirTalk, KPCC; June 11, 2014
    • - David French, National Review Online; June 11, 2014
    • - Molly Wharton, National Review Online; June 11, 2014
    • - Michael Brendan Dougherty, The Week; June 12, 2014
    • - Gregory Pine O.P., First Things; June 12, 2014
    • - Owen Strachan, Patheos; June 12, 2014
    • - John Turner, Patheos; June 12, 2014
    • - Jay Parini, CNN Opinion; June 13, 2014
    • - Leonardo Blair, Christian Post; June 13, 2014
    • - Monica Perez, Washington Examiner; June 17, 2014
    • - George Yancey, Patheos Blogs; June 18, 2014
    • - John Leo, Minding the Campus; June 18, 2014
    • - Eric Metaxas, Breakpoint; June 19, 2014
    • - Nate Kellum, Christian Post; June 19, 2014
    • - Aaron Bandler, The College Fix; June 25, 2014
    • - Joshua Block, Jurist; June 25, 2014
    • - M.D. Harmon, Portland Press Herald; June 26, 2014
    • - Dave Bohon, The New American; June 26, 2014
    • - Rob Gregory, First Things; June 26, 2014
    • - July 5, 2014
  • - Washington Post; May 31, 2014
  • - James Wellman, Patheos; May 19, 2014
  • - Christ Horst, Faithstreet.com; May 12, 2014
  • - Ruth Wisse, Wall Street Journal; May 11, 2014
  • - Peter Wood, Fox News; April 29, 2014
  • - Ross Douthat, New York Times; March 19, 2014
  • - First Things; May 23, 2013
  • - Deseret News; July 13, 2012
  • - Religion News Service; May 9, 2012
  • ; February 22 2012
  • ; November 2, 2011
  • ; April 1; 2012

Legal Responses:

  • - San Diego Union-Tribune; February 27, 2015
  • South Carolina Congress members campaign for Freedom of Association
    • ; February 11, 2015
    • ; February 6, 2015
    • ; February 5, 2015
  • - Christian Post; June 4, 2013
  • Virginia, Idaho, North Carolina, Missouri, Kansas, and Colorado consider laws to protect rights of campus groups
    • - Associated Press; March 22, 2016
    • - Wichita Eagle: March 22, 2016
    • - Wichita Eagle: March 22, 2016
    • - Wichita Eagle; March 18, 2016

    • - Christian Post; May 9, 2015
    • - Topeka Capital-Journal; March 9, 2015
    • - The Denver Post; February 9, 2015
    • - The Missouri Times; December 3, 2014
    • - IndyWeek.com; May 7, 2014
    • North Carolina Senate committee advances student protection legislation - &
    • - Idaho legislature; Mary 29, 2013
    • - Boise Weekly; March 7, 2013
    • - KBOI2 TV; March 4, 2013
    • - Christian News Network - February 27, 2013
    • - The Daily Caller; February 21, 2013
    • - First Things blog; February 19, 2013
    • - Inside Higher Ed; February 18, 2013
  • - World on Campus; May 10, 2012

More Campuses of Concern

  • - Detroit Free Press; March 7, 2018
  • - Deseret News; March 9, 2013
  • February 22, 2012
  • University of North Carolina reviews its policy
    • ; May 23, 2012
    • ; February 24, 2012
  • March 2, 2012
  • ; January 13, 2012

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights

The U.S. Commission on Civil Rights held probing the conflict between principles of nondiscrimination and religious liberties. One of the panels focused on the impact of the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in the case of CLS v. Martinez, that is discussed below. ñ staff and students have submitted statements for inclusion in the public record of the briefing. We produced a on the briefing, as well as a .

News coverage:

The Commission finally three and a half years later, in September, 2016. While Commission Reports do not have legal authority, their findings can influence legislation and legal decisions.

News coverage:


Conclusion

We believe that the decision in the Martinez case is much narrower than schools often realize and we hope that all of these challenges will be resolved so that our ministry on campus is not restricted. We are encouraged by the 2012 Supreme Court Decision in the case of . Although it’s a narrowly written decision, the unanimous ruling of the justices endorsed the First Amendment principle of religious organizations being free from government interference in leadership decisions.

As Justice Samuel Alito noted in his concurring opinion in the Hosanna-Tabor case, "The First Amendment protects the freedom of religious groups to engage in certain key religious activities, including the conducting of worship services and other religious ceremonies and rituals, as well as the critical process of communicating the faith. Accordingly, religious groups must be free to choose the personnel who are essential to the performance of these functions."