Colorado Christian University Case: EC & Compelling Interest

marty.lederman at comcast.net marty.lederman at comcast.net
Tue Jul 24 12:00:52 PDT 2007


OK, I've now read the whole opinion, and I think the court's judgment is plainly correct under governing doctrine.

The crucial point is that CCU's education necessarily invovles inculcation of religious truths and "spiritual transformation."  "A substantial portion of the 'secular' instruction its students receive is inextricably entwined with religious indoctrination."  "CCU stipulates that its President 'informs incoming freshmen that "Everything you learn at CCU will be framed within the Christian worldview, integrating your faith and your learning.”'  ¶ 16.  In an alumni publication, the President wrote that 'Education at CCU . . . is simply more than students could hope to find in any secular setting, because [their] education here has been structured intentionally to foster their spiritual transformation.' ¶ 20. . . .  CCU admits that it requires all of its undergraduate students to attend 25 of the 30 semiweekly chapel services each semester. ¶ 37."  

(The label of "pervasively sectarian" is basically being applied only as a proxy to make this simple point about the nature of the education, i.e., that it involves both instruction on religious "truth" and compelled religious rituals -- something that apparently is not disputed.)

OK, so if Colorado funded this education, it would be funding prayer, religious inculcation, and "spiritual transformation."

What follows?

1.  If any of the aid programs in question is a "direct" aid program, or a program in which the school rather than the student applies for the aid -- something that is not clear from the bare-bones listing of the aid programs in footnote 3 --  then such state funding of religious education would violate the *federal* Constitution, per Mitchell v. Helms and countless other cases. 

2.  If, on the other hand, all five of the programs are a type of Zelman-like "indirect" aid to students, Colorado *could* fund the CCU religious inculcation (per Zelman), but need not do so (per Locke). 

Now, of course the new Court might very well overrule the entire Mitchell line of cases *and* Locke.  But until it does so, this decision strikes me as compelled by the case law.


 -------------- Original message ----------------------
From: Rick Duncan <nebraskalawprof at yahoo.com>
> Doug Laycock writes:
>    
>   "I don't know much about this case, but certainly as Rick describes it, it is 
> just the state disagreeing with the federal rule on denominational 
> discrimination."
>    
>   Doug and others, the CCU case is a very interesting and (I think) very 
> important case making its way up the system. Here is a link to the district ct 
> opinion which is currently being appealed.
>    
>   Rick Duncan
>   
> 
>  
> 
> 
>   Rick Duncan 
> Welpton Professor of Law 
> University of Nebraska College of Law 
> Lincoln, NE 68583-0902
>    
>   
> "It's a funny thing about us human beings: not many of us doubt God's existence 
> and then start sinning. Most of us sin and then start doubting His existence."  
> --J. Budziszewski (The Revenge of Conscience)
>    
>   "Once again the ancient maxim is vindicated, that the perversion of the best 
> is the worst." -- Id.
> 
> 
>        
> ---------------------------------
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