An atheist group has filed an amicus brief supporting a lawsuit against a Georgia college that disciplined a Christian student for preaching on campus.
In the case, the Alliance Defending Freedom filed suit on behalf of student Chike Uzuegbunam against George Gwinnett College.
Uzuegbunam was disciplined for distributing Christian literature outside the limits of a free speech zone on the college campus.
According to school policy, which has since changed, students were only allowed to preach or distribute literature at two “free speech zones” on campus.
AHA Executive Director Roy Speckhardt said in a statement released Tuesday that he believes people must “be given every chance to preserve their First Amendment rights.
“While the AHA and ADF may approach the Constitution from different angles, at the very least we agree that First Amendment litigation and the associated rights are essential to our democracy,” he said.
In the amicus brief, the American Humanist Association said, “religious freedom” is the “cornerstone of our democracy.”
“On the chopping block is a time-honored remedy essential to vindicating the most important rights in our country. Religious freedom—the cornerstone of our democracy—could become an empty promise without nominal damages,” read the summary of the AHA brief.
“Religion Clause violations rarely produce actual damages and often stem from easily-mootable laws. Taking away from citizens the only remedy available in many such cases jeopardizes the rule of law itself.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom filed the suit on behalf of Uzuegbunam and another student, Joseph Bradford, but in 2017, the college changed the campus policy and said the complaint against the school was no longer applicable.
A district court agreed and ruled in favor of the college. In an appeal, a Court of Appeals for the Eleventh Circuit upheld the original ruling.
ADF then appealed the decision and the Supreme Court is next expected to hear oral arguments in the case.
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Amanda Casanova is a writer living in Dallas, Texas. She has covered news for ChristianHeadlines.com since 2014. She has also contributed to The Houston Chronicle, U.S. News and World Report and IBelieve.com. She blogs at The Migraine Runner.