A federal judge has ruled that Wayne State University violated the First Amendment in refusing to officially recognize the Christian group InterVarsity because it required its leaders to be adherents of the faith.
In a summary judgment Monday, Judge Robert H. Cleland granted InterVarsity its request for a permanent injunction. The Michigan school had notified InterVarsity that its leadership requirements violated the school’s anti-discrimination policy.
“The uncontested facts demonstrate that Defendants violated Plaintiffs’ rights to internal management, free speech, freedom of association, freedom of assembly, and free exercise as a matter of law,” he said, writing in the Eastern District of Michigan, Southern Division.
Cleland wrote that “[t]he First Amendment categorically prohibits government attempts to influence or impose unwanted ministers on religious groups.”
“Yet the parties agree that the only reason why Defendants took these negative actions against Plaintiffs was because Plaintiffs refused to allow appointment of ministers who did not agree with Plaintiffs’ key religious tenants. No religious group can constitutionally be made an outsider, excluded from equal access to public or university life, simply because it insists on religious leaders who believe in its cause.”
In his opinion, Cleland noted that other groups had specific requirements based on ethnicity and other factors. For example, the Iraqi Student Association “required that its leaders be ‘dedicated Iraqi student[s],'” the decision read.
In a statement to Fox News, the university said the ruling was “not unexpected.”
“Unfortunately, despite the