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Supreme Court of the United States

Badger Catholic v. Walsh

Last Updated: 6/2/2020

Overview

What's at stake

  • The right of students to engage in worship on campus. 
  • The right of students to have equal access to mandatory student fees.

Summary

Badger Catholic was the largest Catholic student group at the University of Wisconsin.  Like many student groups, it regularly receive funding from mandatory student fees, until the university decided that it would no longer fund any activity that included prayer, worship, and proselytizing. 

To be the largest and most effective Catholic student group at the University of Wisconsin, you need a lot of programs and events.  Badger Catholic offered students exactly that—weekly meetings, counseling, retreats, and university-wide events.  Many student groups at the university applied for funding from the mandatory student fee fund.  Of course, many liberal groups received funding without any problem.  And Badger Catholic did too—for a time. 

Then one year, the university decided that it would no longer allow Badger Catholic to use the mandatory student fees for any activity that included prayer, worship, or proselytizing.  That effectively defunded all of Badger Catholic’s programs. 

Badger Catholic contacted Alliance Defending Freedom for help and protection from the university’s religious discrimination.  Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on behalf of Badger Catholic and fought to secure multiple court orders telling the university to stop its discrimination.  But the university continued to fight and appealed the rulings against it all the way to the United States Supreme Court.  Thankfully, the high court declined to take the case, which preserved the victories Alliance Defending Freedom had won for Badger Catholic and ensured that all students will have equal access to mandatory student fees in the future.

Our role in this case

Alliance Defending Freedom represented Badger Catholic in a lawsuit against the University of Wisconsin, and defended its right to equal access to mandatory student fees. Alliance Defending Freedom continues to fight for the rights of many student groups like Badger Catholic so that they can participate equally in the marketplace of ideas.

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Resources

Legal Documents

Court
Title
Date
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