Action Center

Support Students' First Amendment Rights
President Biden's Department of Education posted its intent to rescind protections for faith-based student groups on college campuses that receive public funding. According to the Biden Administration, these protections "are not necessary" and create an "unduly burdensome" obligation to protect First Amendment Rights. 


Use this action center to tell the Administration you OPPOSE this proposal!


Under the previous Administration, the U.S. Department of Education issued the Religious Liberty and Free Inquiry Final Rule to safeguard students' rights under the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution from violation by public institutions, e.g., college campuses. The Final Rule was a response to cases of unconstitutional, unequal treatment of faith-based student groups at public institutions.


The Final Rule requires that publicly funded colleges and universities provide equal access to campus resources to faith-based student groups with leadership and membership requirements based on sincerely held religious beliefs.


Unfortunately, faith-based student groups have been prohibited from requiring club leadership to share the club's stated religious beliefs and/or denied equal access to university resources that are given to other groups. A leader from Chi Alpha, a parachurch organization with groups on college campuses nationwide, put it best when he said, "It's been like whack-a-mole at the county fair the past seven years." Christian student groups represent the majority of incidents. Student groups rooted in any faith, including minority religions, benefit from the protections under the Free Inquiry Rule. Ahmadiyya Muslims at West Virginia University and Baptist Campus Ministries at the University of Alabama are equally protected by the Free Inquiry Rule.


The Biden Administration's complaint that the protections "are not necessary" and create "unduly burdensome" obligations is discouraging, to say the least. It conveys that the Administration is unwilling to work hard to protect students' First Amendment rights. 


The Administration appears to satisfy itself with the fact that if a student group experiences a First Amendment violation, the student group can sue in court for "remedies without Departmental involvement." To be sure, student groups have been able to successfully defend their rights in court. But students should not have to endure years of litigation, legal costs, and uncertainty that would dominate the limited time that they have to experience college. 


It matters that the Department of Education will not get involved. If the federal government wants to be involved in funding schools, it ought to take some responsibility in controlling the leviathan it helped create. For instance, following an investigation into an allegation, the Department can take action to pull funding in whole or in part, facilitate arbitration, and more. 


The status quo is unacceptable, least of all from institutions receiving trillions in taxpayer dollars. But apparently, the Biden Administration is uninterested in accountability for this issue. The Biden Administration wants to put the burden on the student groups, not the federal government enabling First Amendment violations, to defend students' rights.


Use this action center to tell the Administration you OPPOSE this proposal!


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