Federal court: U of Iowa used 'viewpoint discrimination' to de-register Christian group

A federal Court of Appeals upheld a previous ruling that the University of Iowa discriminated against a Christian student group.

A similar suit was filed against the university in 2018.

A U.S. Court of Appeals recently found that the University of Iowa unfairly applied its human rights policy to de-register a Christian student organization.

InterVarsity, a Christian student organization at the University of Iowa, was de-registered as a student organization for requiring their leaders to hold certain religious beliefs, which goes against the school’s human rights policy, according to The Gazette

This is not the first time a court has similarly ruled against the University of Iowa in recent years. 

After Business Leaders in Christ (BLinC) was deregistered for requiring their leaders to hold certain views on gender and sexuality, the group sued in 2018. Following a preliminary injunction allowing BLinC to continue their status as a Registered Student Organization on campus, the university conducted a “Student Org Clean Up Proposal,” which “reviewed all RSO constitutions to bring them into compliance with the Human Rights Policy.”

According to last month’s decision, 38 student groups were deregistered, with “most for failure to submit updated documents. However, several were ”deregistered for requiring their leaders to affirm statements of faith,” and InterVarsity was one of them.

[RELATED: Federal court of appeals sides with Christian student group in a case against the University of Iowa]

However, the July 16 decision filed by the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 8th Circuit found that the university was applying the policy to some organizations, but not others.

According to the federal court, the university targeted some religious groups, but not other organizations that could have policies that violated their human rights policy.

“What the university did here was clearly unconstitutional,” the ruling states. “It targeted religious groups for differential treatment under the human rights policy — while carving out exemptions and ignoring other violative groups with missions they presumably supported.”

[RELATED: VICTORY: Iowa students’ free speech rights prevail]

Specifically, InterVarsity pointed to LoveWorks, which is a student organization at the University of Iowa that requires “its leaders to affirm same-sex relationships,” according to the decision.

“The school officials here punished opinions they didn’t like and promoted ones they did — all while using taxpayer dollars to do it,” Daniel Blomberg, senior counsel at Becket Law, the firm representing both BLinC and InterVarsity told The Gazette. “The good news is that they’ve been held accountable, and school officials nationwide are on notice.”

Campus Reform reached out to the University of Iowa, BLinC, and InterVarsity; this article will be updated accordingly.