Wayne State University in Michigan Subject of Pro-Life Discrimination Lawsuit
by Steven Ertelt
July 25, 2008
Detroit, MI (LifeNews.com) — Wayne State University in Michigan is the subject of a new lawsuit from the pro-life student group there, which claims the college discriminated against it. WSU Students for Life says university officials refused to allow the organization the same access to student fees and facilities that other student groups have.
The lawsuit challenges the constitutionality of the schools student fee policy, which precludes student groups with religious viewpoints from benefits that are extended to student groups with nonreligious views.
Alliance Defense Fund attorneys filed the suit on behalf of the pro-life group and ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Joseph Martins spoke with LifeNews.com about the case.
Student groups shouldn’t be discriminated against for their beliefs, he said.
Access for these groups to funding and facilities must be provided without regard to the groups viewpoint. When a public university enforces a viewpoint-discriminatory policy, the school violates the Constitution," he added.
Andrea Bezaire, president of WSU Students for Life, submitted a budget request to WSUs Budget Committee to help fund the groups Pro-Life Week 2008 events.
The committee denied the request because of the spiritual and religious programming references in the cover letter.
In Bezaires appeal of the denial, she removed all religious references in order to meet the budget committees demands.
Even so, the university replied by again denying the groups entire budget request, with some student council members stating that the subject matter of the groups events was inappropriate and would greatly offend women who had an abortion.
ADF Senior Counsel Nate Kellum also commented on the case.
Universities cannot enforce policies designed to suppress student groups from presenting religious perspectives on societal issues, he said.
Wayne State currently extends funding to student groups with a whole range of different views; it cannot single out this one for discrimination. What it really appears to come down to is that the values of Students for Life conflict with the politically correct philosophies embraced by the university, and that is not a sufficient legal basis for discriminating against the group," Kellum explained.
A copy of the filed complaint in Wayne State University Students for Life v. Driker is available at https://www.telladf.org/UserDocs/WSUStudentsForLifeComplaint.pdf.
Related web sites:
Alliance Defense Fund – https://www.alliancedefensefund.org
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