SAN DIEGO — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom have appealed a federal court’s ruling against Christian student organizations at San Diego State University, arguing that university officials infringed on the First Amendment rights of the student groups.
"The university should be a marketplace of ideas, not an institution for suppressing speech that is ‘unpopular’ with the academic elite," said ADF Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. "University officials are violating students’ First Amendment rights by requiring Christian organizations to accept members who disagree with their beliefs and viewpoints."
ADF attorneys filed a lawsuit in November 2005 on behalf of Christian student groups whose First Amendment rights were violated by the university’s "nondiscrimination" policies. Those policies force Christian student groups to abandon their Christian beliefs and identities as a condition to gain access to the significant benefits recognized student organizations enjoy, including meeting on campus, receiving university funding, and accessing the primary channels for communicating their message on campus.
"University officials would never require that the College Democrats allow Republicans to run their organization. That would essentially mean the end of College Democrats on campus," said Tedesco. "All student groups have the right to elect officers and members who share that group’s beliefs and values. After all, the university is supposed to be the marketplace of ideas."
Alpha Gamma Omega and Alpha Delta Chi, a fraternity and a sorority at San Diego State University, are appealing the court’s ruling. The groups require their members and officers to profess their faith in Jesus Christ and adhere to a biblical code of conduct to maintain their Christian identities and expressions. University officials denied these groups recognition, and the many benefits that flow from recognition, based on their religious beliefs as expressed in their membership and leadership policies.
ADF-allied attorney John Stewart of Orange County is also assisting with the case.
The ADF Center for Academic Freedom defends 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.