Skip to main content
Hero Image

University of Wisconsin Pays Almost $500,000 for Violating Religious Liberties

October 17, 2017

Last week, the University of Wisconsin paid almost $500,000 to the Alliance Defense Fund for violating the First Amendment rights of Badger Catholic, the Catholic student organization on campus. ADF has litigated a number of cases against the University of Wisconsin over the years challenging the unconstitutional abuses inflicted on students and student groups by its mandatory student fee system.

The Supreme Court, in ADF's first case against UW, Board of Regents v. Southworth, ruled that the University could require students to pay a mandatory fee that funds groups some students might find objectionable, only if all student groups had an equal shot at receiving student fee money to fund their advocacy.  The University of Wisconsin violated this constitutional principle by denying funding to Badger Catholic for some of its expression the University deemed too religious - expression involving prayer, worship or "proselytizing."  "Proselytizing" is just a negative word meaning, "trying to convince other people to agree with the opinion you are advocating."  Most student groups urge other students to join their cause.  The expression of campus religious groups contributes to the debate in the marketplace of ideas at a modern university, so their voices should not be hobbled by denying them access to funding that all other student groups can receive.  Yet UW insisted that the Establishment Clause stopped it from funding student groups, although the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled otherwise in favor of equal access.

We hope the payment of ADF's attorneys fees for years of litigation will convince the University of Wisconsin that it pays to obey the Constitution.  But we are not sure if other public universities are getting the word.  If  you are a college student, and your state university is denying your group funding because of "separation of church and state" or that your group is "too religious,"  or, "too controversial," or that because your speech will offend others, please contact the Alliance Defense Fund.  We've gained a lot of experience on this issue from our time going after the University of Wisconsin.

Join the conversation
Sound off below – Leave a comment!

Alliance Defending Freedom

Alliance Defending Freedom

Non-profit organization

Alliance Defending Freedom advocates for your right to freely live out your faith

Religious Freedom

VICTORY! Supreme Court Rules for College Student Silenced from Sharing the Gospel

The Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in favor of Chike Uzuegbunam, giving him the justice he deserves.

Religious Freedom

A Q&A with Emily Kaht: Why She Ran a Marathon Around NCAA Headquarters

During Selina’s Run this fall, Emily ran the length of a marathon in front of the NCAA headquarters in Indianapolis, Indiana carrying a flag that read “Save Women’s Sports.”

Religious Freedom

See the Sketches: Supreme Court Oral Arguments Then Vs. Now

While it’s easy to see the differences between the oral arguments in Masterpiece and Uzuegbunam, the similarities shouldn’t be understated.