Sep 15, 2011

In 1996, the Maryland Higher Education Commission disallowed Columbia Union College from participating in a state grant program because the college is pervasively sectarian. A federal court upheld the state’s denial, agreeing that funding the Seventh-Day Adventist college would violate the Establishment Clause. The college appealed and, on October 26, 1998, the Fourth Circuit remanded the case to the district court to gather more information on the college’s religious character. On August 18, 2000, the district court held that Columbia Union is not pervasively sectarian and is entitled to the state funding. That decision was also appealed. AU filed an amicus brief in the first appeal on March 13, 1998, and an amicus brief in the second appeal on November 28, 2000, arguing that Columbia Union should be denied funds if it is found to be pervasively sectarian. On June 26, 2001, the Fourth Circuit affirmed the district court’s decision, ruling that Columbia Union is entitled to the funds regardless of whether it is pervasively sectarian and that, in any event, it is not pervasively sectarian. The plaintiffs elected not to seek certiorari from this decision.