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An Important Victory for Freedom of Association at Southern Illinois University

Today, Southern Illinois University (SIU) settled a case where it refused to recognize a new student organization, the Christian Legal Society, because its membership policies conflicted with the school’s non-discrimination regulations. The case, in which FIRE filed an amicus brief on behalf of the Christian Legal Society, produced an important opinion from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals, which protected the student organization’s freedom of association rights. SIU found out the hard way that ignoring the First Amendment has real financial costs. As part of the settlement the University will establish a $10,000 scholarship fund which the organization will administer. Maybe this will serve as a warning to other colleges and universities to think twice before ignoring their constitutional obligations.

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