Sep 15, 2011

Claiming a federal free-exercise right to receive state aid, Colorado Christian University filed a lawsuit challenging state officials’ conclusion that the University’s pervasively religious nature rendered it ineligible under the state constitution to participate in a student financial-aid program. After losing before a federal district court in a decision issued in May 2007, the University appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Tenth Circuit. AU joined with its allies to submit an amicus brief on January 25, 2008. Pointing to the U.S. Supreme Court’s 2004 decision in Locke v. Davey, which upheld Washington State’s refusal to extend scholarship aid to college students who are training for the clergy, AU’s brief argued that Colorado retained the discretion to limit public-tuition support to secular education. On July 23, 2008, the Tenth Circuit reversed the district court, holding that the Colorado statute excluding "pervasively sectarian" universities from the financial-aid program was unconstitutional because it discriminated among religions and required overly intrusive inquiry into the religious beliefs and practices of universities seeking to participate in the program. Colorado decided not to seek review by the U.S. Supreme Court.