The Center for Law & Religious Freedom

CLS Chapters that have been Faced with Derecognition

CLS student chapters across the nation have had to resort to litigation after being threatened with loss of access to campus because of alleged discrimination based on religion or sexual orientation.
Southern Illinois University (2005).  The federal Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of CLS after the SIU law school revoked its recognition because SIU claimed that CLS violated its policy against discrimination on the basis of religion and sexual orientation. The Seventh Circuit held that CLS had a free speech and expressive association right to be recognized by the law school. Christian Legal Society v. Walker, 453 F.3d 853 (7th Cir. 2006).
Washburn University School of Law (2004). A student, who explicitly rejected CLS’s statement of faith, filed a religious discrimination complaint against the CLS chapter because it refused to allow him to lead its Bible studies after he led a study contrary to CLS’s religious viewpoints. The university restored recognition only after CLS filed suit.
Montana University School of Law (2008).  The law school deregonized the student chapter because of its religious requirements for membership and leadership. 
University of Minnesota Law School (2003). The law school threatened to deny recognition to the CLS chapter because it required its voting members and officers to subscribe to a statement of faith. Although it relented in response to a letter from a faculty member, the university subsequently denied another religious group recognition because it refused to state in its constitution that its membership was open to all students regardless of religion or sexual orientation. (Maranatha Christian Fellowship v. Regents of the Bd. of the Univ. of Minn. Sys., No. 03-5618 (D. Minn. Oct. 24, 2003)).  The university then changed its policy to allow religious student groups to “require their voting membership and officers to adhere to the organization’s statement of faith and its rules of conduct.”
University of Toledo Law School (2005). Toledo, a law school that had a nondiscrimination policy that specifically exempted religious groups, insisted that a CLS chapter pledge not to discriminate on the basis of religion. After suit was filed, the University of Toledo Law School reaffirmed its religious exemption and agreed that religious groups could cite to the Bible in their constitutions.
Arizona State University College of Law (2004). ASU eventually conceded that CLS’s practice did not constitute discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation and granted recognition to religious groups that limited voting membership and leadership to students sharing the same religious beliefs. Christian Legal Soc’y Chapter at Ariz. State Univ. v. Crow, No. 04-2572 (D. Ariz. Nov. 17, 2004).
Professor Bainbridge described the University of Illinois’s derecognition of CLS when its student leaders “refused to sign a University pledge to refrain from discrimination on the basis of sexual orientation.”
CLS also has faced recognition issues at the law schools of Florida State University, the University of Oklahoma, the University of Pittsburgh, the University of New Mexico, the University of Idaho, and the University of South Carolina.