CARBONDALE, Ill.—Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund and Christian Legal Society asked a federal court Tuesday to order the Southern Illinois University School of Law to immediately respect the constitutional rights of a student group.
ADF and CLS attorneys filed the motion for preliminary injunction on behalf of the campus CLS chapter, asking for relief while their lawsuit against school officials goes forward.
“SIU has singled out the CLS chapter as the only student organization at the university that may not require its members and officers to agree with the group’s basic beliefs and purposes,” said M. Casey Mattox, litigation counsel for CLS’s Center for Law & Religious Freedom. “Religious student groups, like other student organizations, should be able to come together around shared commitments without fear of punishment from university officials.”
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 membership and leadership principles violate the university’s affirmative action policy. However, the university does not apply its policy to any other religious student organizations on campus that, like the CLS chapter, require members and leaders to agree with the respective groups’ core beliefs, including religious beliefs.
“First Amendment rights apply to everyone,” said Mattox. “Would university officials demand that a pro-abortion student group extend its membership to those who are pro-life? Religious student groups are not second-class to other student groups.”
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.