A Christian-based legal defense alliance has filed a lawsuit against Texas A&M University, claiming the college showed discrimination for choosing not to help fund a student conservative group's plans to host pro-life and political activist Star Parker at a speaking event.
Alliance Defense Fund attorneys say they filed the lawsuit against the university to challenge a policy that unconstitutionally denies funding to political and religious student organizations while providing funds to many other student groups.
"Student groups should not be singled out for discrimination because of their political or religious views," said ADF Legal Counsel David Hacker. "Universities are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas, not a place where funding earmarked for student groups only goes to the ones the university prefers. ADF has successfully litigated similar cases because the Constitution requires that political and faith-based student organizations not be targeted for discrimination based upon their viewpoints."
Texas Aggie Conservatives submitted a funding request last December to offset costs for bringing Parker to the campus to discuss poverty, race, and social justice issues in America from a political and religious perspective. The university denied the request in February on grounds that funds "cannot be approved for recognized organizations with a classification of social and political issues," which forced the group to raise funds through alternate sources.
The university's policy requires the group to abandon its First Amendment protected right to access funding but does not impose the same requirement on non-political and non-religious student organizations, according to ADF.
"The policy allows the university to allocate resources at its discretion, without any clearly defined criteria or standards. As a result, the university has the power to unconstitutionally favor the speech of some groups over others," ADF stated.
Houston attorney G. Scott Fiddler, one of more than 2,100 attorneys in the ADF alliance, is serving as local counsel in the lawsuit, Texas Aggie Conservatives v. Loftin, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Texas.
ADF states that it is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. The alliance was launched in 1994, and "employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family."
It is not known whether Texas A&M University officials have made an official statement about the lawsuit.