August 26, 2004


The Chapel Hill vs Alpha Iota Omega case goes to the next level with a lawsuit being filed. Both FIRE and the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) are on the case.

Here's FIRE's soundbite:
"UNC continues to argue falsely that federal law requires it to discriminate in this way against religious groups. The U.S. Constitution demands exactly the opposite, as it provides these students with freedom to associate according to their beliefs. UNC has made the decision not to allow a Christian group to remain Christian in defiance of the Constitution; now it must defend its decision in a court of law."

Here's UNC's soundbite (from the local rag):
Chancellor James Moeser and other campus administrators declined to discuss the details of the lawsuit. Instead, Moeser reissued a statement from earlier this month.

"We are a public institution, and we cannot discriminate," Moeser said in the prepared statement. "That's the law. And that's why we are very comfortable with the position that we've taken on this issue. Membership in recognized student groups must be open to all students on a nondiscriminatory basis."

Most intriguing thing about the case so far? Unsurprising and gratuitious use of the term "religious right wing" by the local rag. Sigh. Hopefully they'll at least get the facts of the case straight, though based on my past personal experience with the fine writers at the N&O;, I'm not too optimistic.

Any bets on how long it's gonna take the politicians to start giving soundbites?

Posted by Big Arm Woman at August 26, 2004 09:55 AM

FIRE says that "UNC has made the decision not to allow a Christian group to remain Christian in defiance of the Constitution..."

I still don't get how not allowing the group to require that new members be Christians is unconstitutional, or how it keeps the group from being Christian. I think that most would describe the Black Student Union as a black organization despite the fact that it's rules allow the admittance of white students, and the group's Constitution expresses an intent to "offer outlets for expressing Black ideals and culture..."

So that's it: I just don't understand. (Winston obviously knows something I don't, but isn't telling.) I'm often wrong about lots of stuff, but it seems to me that if AIO drops this requirement, the problem goes away. So how is that not what they're fighting about?

Posted by: Lance McCord at August 26, 2004 10:52 AM

Politicians already HAVE waded in. U.S. Rep. Walter Jones Jr., for starters.

WUNC had one of the members on the air yesterday while I was driving home, and I wish I could remember his quote word-for-word because it made the group sound like its members were going to be all Lifestyle Police on each other. Probably not the case, of course, but that was my fleeting impression.

Posted by: Lex at August 26, 2004 01:40 PM

Lance: I think she meant that the decision (descriminating by viewpoint) was in defiance of the Constitution, not the desire of the group to remain Christian (freedom of association).

Posted by: Sigivald at August 26, 2004 03:31 PM

How on earth can UNC take this position when it has 8 (I think) "historically black" fraternities and sororities? How can they think this way?

Posted by: Jack at August 26, 2004 04:43 PM

Lawsuits are so easy to shrug off, though; why not go for federal criminal charges under 18 USC 241?

Posted by: ManFromPorlock at August 26, 2004 05:15 PM