A federal appeals court ruled on Monday that University of Iowa administrators can now be forced to pay monetary damages after unlawfully revoking a Christian group’s student organization status.
Dean Lyn Redington, Assistant Dean Thomas Baker, and Iowa Memorial Union Executive Director William Nelson are now obliged to pay compensation sought by Business Leaders in Christ, according to the 8th US Circuit Court of Appeals.
This has overturned part of a ruling issued two years ago by District Judge Stephanie Rose. Despite granting a permanent injunction that allowed the group to keep its status, Rose did not order the three officials to pay damages, noting that they qualified for immunity.
The Christian group filed the lawsuit in 2017 after the university revoked its student organization status for allegedly discriminating against one of its own members.
The group reportedly prevented a student from assuming a leadership position because he was openly gay and disagreed with the group’s beliefs on sexuality. The student then lodged a complaint with the university which prompted university leaders to decide on proper consequences.
However, Rose determined that UIowa had not fairly applied its human rights policy, as they allowed other groups to limit their membership based on religious views and gender but did not do the same for BLinC.
With the new ruling, the case will be sent back to the lower courts for further proceedings. The extent of damages administrators will face is yet to be determined. However, leaders of religious groups are celebrating this victory.
“University of Iowa officials knew this was wrong, and they did it anyway. We’re pleased to have the court recognize that blatant religious discrimination brings personal consequences,” said Becket Fund for Religious Liberty Vice President Eric Baxter.