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Justice Department Backs Student Group Suit Against University of Iowa

The University of Iowa has found itself in the dock after the U.S. Department of Justice filed a statement of interest before the court backing claims of a Christian student group.

The lawsuit, filed by Business Leaders in Christ in December 2017, alleges Iowa of violating its First Amendment rights by kicking it off campus for asking to sign a statement of faith, including a belief that sexual relations should only occur between a husband and wife.

Last week, the Justice Department argued that the university violated the student group’s First Amendment rights to free association and free speech.

“The First Amendment freedoms of association, speech, and religion prohibit public colleges and universities from suppressing the expression and beliefs of student groups that officials disagree with,” said Eric Dreiband, Assistant Attorney General for the Civil Rights Division.

“The University of Iowa in this case de-registered Business Leaders in Christ because university officials did not like its message.  That is forbidden by the Constitution.”

A department brief alleged school of violating the Constitution on three counts, which include violating rights of expressive association, rights under the Free Exercise Clause of the First Amendment and the right under fundamental free-speech.

“As the Department of Justice has repeatedly emphasized over the last two years, public universities are legally required by to protect the First Amendment rights of students,”  said Principal Deputy Associate Attorney General Jesse Panuccio.

“The American people expect that their tax dollars will fund administrators and faculty who respect the Constitution.  The Department of Justice will continue to get involved in these kinds of cases until this alarming trend is reversed.”

The university has been maintaining that the student group’s statement of faith condition excludes LGBT students.

 

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