CHICAGO - The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit today ordered the Southern Illinois University School of Law to reinstate the registered status of the Christian Legal Society student organization while the appeal the chapter filed moves forward. Attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund and the Christian Legal Society represent the CLS chapter.
"The 7th Circuit recognized that First Amendment rights apply to everyone," said CLS Chief Litigation Counsel Steven H. Aden. "We wanted the students in the CLS chapter to have their constitutional rights respected as this litigation continues, and the court granted that request today."
In its order, the court ordered SIU to reinstate the student group's status as a registered student organization, granting them the full benefits associated with that status. The court also stayed the proceedings in district court while the appeal the CLS chapter filed in the 7th Circuit is pending. In addition, the court agreed to the CLS chapter's request to expedite the appeal on an emergency basis.
In July, a federal district court judge denied the chapter's request for a preliminary injunction, and the group appealed the decision to the 7th Circuit.
ADF and CLS filed Christian Legal Society Chapter at Southern Illinois University School of Law v. Walker in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Illinois in April after the school revoked the chapter's registered status and all of the benefits associated with it. SIU claims the CLS chapter's requirement that its voting members and leaders adhere to basic Christian beliefs violates the university's affirmative action policy.
"We are now hopeful that the outcome of this case will result in the acknowledgement that CLS has a First Amendment right to define its membership requirements," said Aden.
ADF-allied attorney David O. Edwards of the Springfield law firm Giffin, Winning, Cohen & Bodewes, P.C., is also representing the CLS chapter in the case.
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.