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Court: University Should Have
Funded Student Group's Worship
The University of Wisconsin should not have prohibited the use of student funds for the worship-related activities of a Catholic campus group, a federal appeals court has ruled.
The University of Wisconsin at Madison distributes funds from student fees for activities of registered student groups but rejected
paying for worship, religious instruction and proselytizing by Badger Catholic.
"A university cannot shape Badger Catholic's message by selectively funding the speech it approves, but not the speech it disapproves,"wrote Chief Judge Frank Easterbrook of the 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in the September 1 decision.
The Alliance Defense Fund, which sued on behalf of the student group, had argued that Catholics had been the victim of viewpoint discrimination. "The constitutional rights of Christian student organizations should be recognized by university officials just as they recognize those rights for other student groups," said ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence.
The 2-1 majority said the recent Supreme Court decision, Christian Legal Society v. Martinez, left "no doubt" that the Wisconsin school should reimburse Badger Catholic programs it had rejected for funding.
University spokesman Dennis Chaptman said the school's attorneys are reviewing the decision.