Ratio Christi at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln v. The Members of the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska
Description: Christian student organization, Ratio Christi, filed a federal lawsuit against the University of Nebraska-Lincoln for failing to distribute money collected from mandatory student fees to student organizations in a fair, viewpoint-neutral manner.
Christian student organization seeks fair treatment at University of Nebraska-Lincoln
LINCOLN, Neb. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing Christian student organization Ratio Christi filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against the University of Nebraska–Lincoln for discriminating against their Christian views and failing to distribute money collected from mandatory student fees to student organizations in a fair, viewpoint-neutral manner.
The university denied Ratio Christi’s request of $1,500 in student activity funding to bring in a respected philosopher who taught at UNL for several decades because, according to the university, it could not promote “speakers of a political and ideological nature.” The university told Ratio Christi that, to receive any funding, the student organization would have to “provide another spokesperson with a different ideological perspective” to counterbalance Dr. Robert Audi’s Christian views. However, the university spends thousands of dollars each year hosting and funding events that are political and ideological in nature without imposing the same requirement.
“Public universities should be eager to support an inclusive environment that showcases a variety of viewpoints, not dismiss those with whom the administration disagrees,” said ADF Legal Counsel Michael Ross. “The University of Nebraska–Lincoln has failed to ensure its student organizations are treated fairly and objectively; it turned down Ratio Christi’s reasonable request because of a blatant bias against its particular religious and ideological viewpoint.”
“Today’s college students are the future leaders of our country, which is why it is critical that universities model our First Amendment values,” said ADF Senior Counsel Gregg Walters. “The University of Nebraska–Lincoln now has the tremendous responsibility and opportunity to protect freedom of speech on its campus.”
Ratio Christi is a recognized student organization that seeks to advance, teach, and defend Christian beliefs. As part of its mission, Ratio Christi regularly hosts events on campus that discuss topics like philosophy, ethics, politics, and current events from a Christian perspective.
ADF attorneys filed Ratio Christi at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln v. The Members of the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska. Richard Wall, Jr. of The Estate Planning Law Firm of Richard J. Wall, Jr., P.C., L.L.O in Lincoln, one of nearly 3,500 attorneys allied with ADF, is serving as local counsel.
In recent years, ADF has reached successful settlements with universities in Georgia and Colorado after they agreed to change their policies to protect Ratio Christi’s First Amendment rights. Additionally, ADF attorneys filed a federal lawsuit Monday on behalf of Ratio Christi against the University of Houston-Clear Lake for discriminating against the group’s Christian beliefs by excluding Ratio Christi from Registered Student Organization status and the benefits that come with that recognition.
Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, parental rights, and the sanctity of life.
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Michael Ross serves as legal counsel for the Center for Academic Freedom with Alliance Defending Freedom, where he defends the First Amendment freedoms of college students and student organizations on university campuses. Ross earned his Juris Doctor in 2016 from Vanderbilt Law School, where he served as president of the Christian Legal Society and executive authorities editor for the Vanderbilt Transnational Law Journal. He obtained B.A. degrees in mathematics and religious studies from Vanderbilt University in 2010. Ross is a member of the bar in Tennessee.
Gregg Walters serves as senior counsel for the Center for Academic Freedom with Alliance Defending Freedom, where he defends the First Amendment freedoms of college students and student organizations on university campuses. Before joining ADF in 2020, Walters served as an Assistant United States Attorney in the United States Attorney’s Office for the Central District of Illinois. During his 18 years with the Department of Justice, Walters prosecuted a wide variety of federal criminal cases, including child exploitation, fraud, and violent crime matters. In his last five years as a federal prosecutor, he served as appellate chief, personally briefing and arguing over 60 appeals in the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. Before his time with the DOJ, Walters clerked for the Honorable Michael M. Mihm, a federal district judge, and was in private practice. A former officer in the U.S. Army, Walters graduated from the United States Military Academy with a B.S. in systems engineering. After his military service, he earned his J.D. summa cum laude from the Southern Illinois University School of Law. Walters is a member of the state bars of Arizona and Illinois and is admitted to practice in multiple federal district and appellate courts, including the U.S. Supreme Court.