Nearly ten years ago, I helped organize a lawsuit against UNC-Chapel Hill. The university was forcing Christians to allow non-Christians to run their organizations. It took me 18 months to find a plaintiff but I did. In case you were wondering, we took the case to federal court and we won. For a time, freedom of association was preserved at North Carolina's flagship university.
But tyranny is a hungry beast ever in need of replenishing itself at the expense of weaker prey. This semester, the predator was once again a UNC public university campus. But I am pleased to report that with the help of Robert Shibley of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) we were able to win another freedom of association case. Working together, we won the case without a lawsuit. And we did it in just twelve days.
I am reproducing the email correspondence from that case in order to help others who are interested in challenging universities that knowingly violate the First Amendment. I have departed from my traditional practice of naming names as a reward to the university for backing down and saving the taxpayers from unnecessary litigation. I hope you find the following exchange as well (as my interspersed remarks) helpful:
Ms. (Administrator), it has come to my attention that you have asked Ratio Christi to remove its requirement that officers be Christians.
I need to know immediately and in writing by what authority you propose to force them to abandon their belief requirements.
This matter is urgent and and I expect a prompt written response.
Thank you for the inquiry. We are in the process of working with these students as they pursue registration as a student organization. As the process is ongoing and in the beginning stages, our office has much work left to do with these students, including the review of Ratio Christi’s constitution, before any final decisions regarding their organizational status are made. We appreciate your concern in this matter and will continue to work with the students to welcome their organization to the campus community.
Ms. (Administrator), you have not answered my question. It has come to my attention that you have asked Ratio Christi to remove its requirement that officers be Christians.
I need to know immediately and in writing by what authority you propose to force them to abandon those requirements.
This matter is urgent and I expect a prompt written response. If no response is forthcoming, I will assume the following:
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