MADISON, Wis. — A federal judge Thursday, in a lawsuit filed by the Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom, halted the unconstitutional enforcement of a “non-discrimination” policy at the University of Wisconsin-Madison. University officials had not recognized the school’s Roman Catholic Foundation, in part for its alleged violation of the policy, which now cannot be enforced while the foundation’s lawsuit moves forward.
“A ministry does not need to check its constitutional rights at the campus gate,” said ADF Senior Counsel David French, director of CAF. “We are pleased that the judge vindicated the fundamental free speech and free association rights of their students.”
The University of Wisconsin-Madison has refused to recognize the school’s Roman Catholic Foundation, a group that has served over 50,000 students at the university since its inception in 1883. As one of the justifications for its actions, the school contended that the foundation is allegedly in violation of the school’s “non-discrimination” policy, which requires the group to open up its leadership even to those students who do not support the foundation’s mission.
De-recognition resulted in the loss of equal access to school facilities and also represents a continuation of university efforts to deny student fee funding to the foundation.
ADF attorneys also sought to dismiss the university’s claim that the Roman Catholic Foundation does not have enough student representation to receive official recognition from the university. Although the court denied the motion, it ruled that the “non-discrimination” policy could not be used to continue to deny recognition to the group. A copy of the complaint filed by the ADF Center for Academic Freedom in University of Wisconsin-Madison Roman Catholic Foundation v. Walsh can be read here.
“The university’s unconstitutional actions have had an impact on multiple Christian groups, and we hope that yesterday’s ruling will end its harassment of religious organizations on campus,” French said.
The ADF Center for Academic Freedom is defending religious freedom at America’s public universities. ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.