Legal Principle at Issue
Whether a public university can deny funds to a religious student group that it provides to nonreligious student groups.
The Supreme Court ruled on behalf of the religious student group, reversing the Fourth Circuit.
The University of Virginia, a public university, used public money to subsidize publishing costs for nonreligious student groups. The university denied funds to a Christian student group that requested financial assistance to publish a newspaper that would “challenge Christians to live, in word and deed, according to the faith they proclaim and to encourage students to consider what a personal relationship with Jesus Christ means.”
Importance of Case
Public universities cannot deny funding generally available to student groups based on a student group’s religious identification. The Supreme Court held that the Establishment Clause, which prohibits the government from supporting religious activity, did not justify such viewpoint discrimination.