There they go again: Univ. of Wis. back in court over discrimination

ADF attorneys file suit on behalf of CFACT-Madison student group
Wednesday, August 19, 2009

MADISON, Wis. — Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the University of Wisconsin-Madison on behalf of a student group denied access to student fees because of the viewpoints it expresses. This is the sixth lawsuit against the University of Wisconsin system in which ADF has been involved.

“Students shouldn’t be discriminated against and excluded from receiving student fees just because their views don’t line-up with the opinions of university officials,” said ADF Senior Counsel David French, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “Once again, the University of Wisconsin is denying funding to a student organization because the school does not agree with the group’s views. At the same time, the university is willingly providing funding for another student group that aligns more with the political beliefs favored by many university officials. That’s classic viewpoint discrimination, and it’s unconstitutional.”

In Fall 2008, the University of Wisconsin-Madison chapter of Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow applied for eligibility to receive funds from the General Student Services Fund for the 2009-2010 academic year. The club’s request was denied while the request of a politically liberal environmental group, the leftist counterpart to CFACT, was approved. During the eligibility hearings, the Student Services Financial Committee determined that CFACT does not provide a service to students but determined that the other group does.  Afterwards, members of the SSFC made public statements expressing their disdain for CFACT and its views.

In a blog entry after the denial, a member of the committee wrote, “Tonight, SJ dismissed CFACT’s second appeal over their eligibility decision, all but ensuring the death of the group on campus as we currently know it. Good riddens [sic] to an awful organization, one whose accomplishments include...[profanity]-ing with student-controlled finances throughout our country. It’s convenient that this do-nothing, country-club, crazy right-wing group also didn’t meet the eligibility criteria for GSSF funding, the reason for their denial and agreed on by EVERY member of the SSFC.”

ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit, Collegians for a Constructive Tomorrow-Madison v. Pruitt, with the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Wisconsin.  Another ADF lawsuit against the university, filed on behalf of the Roman Catholic Foundation of UW-Madison, is before the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit after the district court ruled against the university.

ADF-allied attorney Krystal Williams-Oby of Madison-based Kingdom Legal Services, Inc., is serving as local counsel in the lawsuit.
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.