In 1995, CIR fought and won a case before the Supreme Court that affirmed that government cannot exclude faith-based student organaizations from programs because of their religious viewpoint.
|“BY WITHHOLDING FROM WIDE AWAKE ASSISTANCE THAT THE UNIVERSITY PROVIDES GENERALLY TO ALL OTHER STUDENT PUBLICATIONS, THE UNIVERSITY HAS DISCRIMINATED ON THE BASIS OF THE MAGAZINES RELIGIOUS VIEWPOINT IN VIOLATION OF THE FREE SPEECH CLAUSE.”CLARENCE THOMAS|
When Ronald W. Rosenberger set out to found a Christian magazine at the University of Virginia in 1990, he assumed that he would be able to seek funding. At the time, 118 student groups were receiving support from the University.
But the grant to start “Wide Awake: The Christian Perspectives at the University of Virginia,” was denied on the grounds that funding a religious magazine out of public funds would violate the separation of church and state.
|Photo from The Calvalier Daily
RONALD ROSENBERGER CHALLENGED UVA WHEN IT REFUSED TO FUND HIS MAGAZINE.
“Wide Awake” went to press with only as much funding as its editors could get from outside, and was driven to shut down after only four issues. In July 1991, Rosenberger and his fellow founders, Robert Prince and Gregory Mourad, sued the university in federal court on the grounds that their rights of free speech had been violated. Judge James H. Michael Jr. ruled in favor of the university, and one year later the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Michael’s ruling.
But with the aid of CIR, Rosenberger took his case all the way to the Supreme Court. On July 29, the Court ruled 5-4 in favor of Rosenberger and affirmed that he had been denied the rights of free speech accorded to his fellow students because of religion.
- Philip Walzer. “Crusade doesn’t end at UVA.” The Roanoke Times & World News, November 13, 1995.
- Philip Walzer and Esther Diskin. “Religious free speech.” The Roanoke Times & World News, June 30, 1995.
- Dennis Cauchon. “Case may redraw Church-State lines” USA Today, February 27, 1995.
- Donald P. Baker. “UVA case may become landmark.” The Washington Post, November 25, 1994.