Litigation Update: InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA v. University of Iowa et al.

On July 16, 2021, the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eight Circuit issued a decision in InterVarsity Christian Fellowship/USA v. University of Iowa et al.  A three-judge panel composed of Circuit Judges Loken, Grasz, and Kobes held that University officials violated the First Amendment when they deregistered a Christian student group, further holding that the university officials were not entitled to qualified immunity. 

The University of Iowa deregistered two Christian student groups, finding that the groups violated the University’s “Human Rights Policy” by requiring their membership and/or leadership to sign a statement of faith in order to join.  The first group—Business Leaders in Christ—sued and successfully received a preliminary injunction.  Following that litigation, the University reviewed its human rights policy and then deregistered the second group—InterVarsity Christian Fellowship.  InterVarsity fought the deregistration, then sued alleging the application of the human rights policy was discriminatory and arguing First Amendment free speech, free association, and free exercise violations in addition to several state law claims. 

Not only did the District Court enter summary judgment for InterVarsity, but the Court also denied individual University defendants qualified immunity relying on the earlier Business Leaders in Christ preliminary injunction grant.  The University appealed and the Eighth Circuit affirmed in a decision with implications for campus free speech, religious liberty after Fulton, and qualified immunity.

Joining us to discuss the case is Casey Mattox, Vice President for Legal and Judicial Strategy at Americans for Prosperity and Senior Fellow for Free Speech at the Charles Koch Institute. Casey is also a member of the Federalist Society’s Free Speech and Election Law Practice Group. 


Casey Mattox, Vice President for Legal and Judicial Strategy, Americans for Propserity; Senior Fellow for Free Speech, Charles Koch Institute 


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