Court Upholds Ruling in Favor of InterVarsity at U of Iowa

We are hard-pressed to find a clearer example of viewpoint discrimination.”

A federal appeals court has upheld a 2019 ruling against the University of Iowa, affirming that the university discriminated against a Christian club by stripping it and dozens of other religious clubs of their registered status.

A three-judge panel of the US 8th Circuit Court of Appeal on Friday found that a lower federal court correctly ruled that the university can’t selectively deregister student organizations. That ruling came on a lawsuit filed by InterVarsity Christian Fellowship after university administrators deregistered its local chapter along with multiple other religious groups.

The university moved to deregister the groups after another faith-based group, Business Leaders in Christ, sued the university for kicking it off campus following a complaint that it wouldn’t let an openly gay member seek a leadership post.

The appeals court said Friday that “we are hard-pressed to find a clearer example of viewpoint discrimination.”

The university had not allowed Christian, Muslim, and Sikh groups to appoint leaders based on their shared faith, selectively enforcing its policy requiring all clubs to offer equal opportunity and access regardless of classifications including race, religion, national origin, age, gender, sexual orientation, or gender identity.

According to Becket, which represented InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in the case, “the court warned that university officials who ‘make calculated choices about enacting or enforcing [such] unconstitutional policies’ should be on notice that they are not entitled to qualified immunity but instead will be held personally accountable for their actions.”

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