Christian Legal Society reinstated

By Gus Bode

After about five months of legal battles, the Christian Legal Society has been temporarily reinstated as a Registered Student Organization in the SIU School of Law.

The University was forced to restore the religious organization’s status after the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Seventh Circuit granted an injunction Aug. 22.

The case is still in the preliminary stages, and the University could appeal the ruling. On July 5, a U.S. district court denied the request for preliminary injunction.

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The law school revoked the organization’s RSO status in March. Law School Dean Peter Alexander informed the group that its membership requirements violated the University’s Affirmative Action and Equal Employment Opportunity policy as well as similar federal and state laws.

The lawsuit arose after an unidentified law student filed a discrimination complaint with the University.

The Christian Legal Society is a national association of Christian lawyers, law students, law professors and judges that adheres to strict Christian beliefs.

It also requires that all members and officers sign a Statement of Faith, agreeing to abide by biblical standards, including abstaining from extra-marital sex both hetero- and homosexual. Anyone can attend the meetings but are not considered a member without signing the statement.

The three-judge panel split 2-1 on the decision and in the dissent, Judge Diane P. Wood said the injunction was ordered for fear that the group’s first amendment rights were at risk.

Casey Mattox, litigation counsel for the Center for Law and Religious Freedom, called the injunction and dissent a strong motion of support for any university religious groups.

The center, which is representing the SIU chapter, has filed similar lawsuits in Arizona, California and Ohio.

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In her dissent, Wood listed six questions she wanted answered when the case reconvenes. The questions included whether requirements for other SIUC religious or exclusive organizations, such as the College Republicans and the Lesbian and Gay Law Students and Supporters fall under the same category.

Reporter Andrea Zimmermann can be reached at [email protected]

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