Tuesday, September 25, 2007

Brief Filed in Colorado Student Aid Case

The CLS Center filed its opening appellant's brief September 12 in the Tenth Circuit in Colorado Christian University v. Baker, a case involving Colorado's discrimination against students attending seriously religious colleges and universities.

Like most states, Colorado has created various programs designed to help students and their families cover the cost of a college education. Students are permitted to direct their aid to virtually any institution of higher education in the state. However, the state statutes creating the programs exclude students attending "pervasively sectarian" schools. Through a subjective and intrusive process, the Colorado Commission on Higher Education decided that Colorado Christian University (CCU) was "pervasively sectarian," thereby denying aid to otherwise eligible students at the school.

In December 2004, CCU filed a civil rights lawsuit in federal court, asserting that the state's discrimination against it and its students violated the Free Exercise Clause, the Establishment Clause, and the Equal Protection Clause. In May 2007, the district court granted the state defendants' summary judgment motion. CCU appealed, and filed its opening brief on September 12.

Among the groups who joined "friend of the court" briefs supporting CCU were the United States, the National Association of Evangelicals, the American Association of Presidents of Independent Colleges & Universities, the Council for Christian Colleges & Universities, the Becket Fund, and the American Center for Law & Justice.

Representing CCU along with the CLS Center are Eric V. Hall and L. Martin Nussbaum of Rothgerber Johnson & Lyons, LLP; Thom Scheffel of Thomas N. Scheffel & Associates, PC; and attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund. ADF has also provided financial support of the legal work done in this case.