Bill of Rights Remains a Mystery in Madison

By on May 3, 2006

Over at Phi Beta Cons, FIRE Legal Network member, Director of the Alliance Defense Fund’s Center for Academic Freedom, and former FIRE president David French discusses the University of Wisconsin’s ongoing and increasingly incomprehensible problems with abiding by the U.S. Constitution. French writes: 
Yesterday, after threatening that he would cut the religious elements out of the University of Wisconsin’s Roman Catholic Foundation’s budget, University of Wisconsin (Madison) Chancellor John Wiley agreed to fund the foundation’s student fee request.  However, he then indicated that next year, the university would engage in viewpoint discrimination by scrutinizing whether student fees would fund religious activities.  In other words, the university has punted the constitutional questions down the field.
The University of Wisconsin is just about fresh out of excuses for ignoring Supreme Court precedent—in this case, Rosenberger v. University of Virginia, 515 U.S. 819 (1995)—thanks in large part to FIRE’s involvement with them on numerous occasions. UW–La Crosse has recently given up its foray into press censorship, while UW–Madison and UW–Eau Claire have gained nothing short of legend status at FIRE for their misinformed, obviously doomed, and yet months-long attempt to prevent RAs from holding private Bible studies in their own dorm rooms. Not to mention that FIRE is still fighting Eau Claire over an issue of viewpoint discrimination very similar to the one David blogged about above. The UW System had better get its act together soon or it can expect more embarrassment and, potentially, expensive lawsuits in the next school year.