The University of Iowa will pay close to $2 million in attorneys fees to a religious freedom legal organization that represented two Christian student groups that sued the college for violating their right to free exercise of religion.
The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty represented Business Leaders in Christ and InterVarsity Christian Fellowship in lawsuits filed against the University of Iowa for deregistering the two groups over their leadership policies. Now, after the student groups emerged victorious in federal court, the university has been ordered to pay nearly $2 million in attorney fees to Becket.
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Business Leaders in Christ, represented by Becket, filed a lawsuit in 2017 after the university deregistered the group for requiring its leaders to adhere to a biblical definition of marriage.
The move prohibited the group from operating on campus and it was barred from receiving student activity funding.
A federal court ruled in Business Leaders in Christ’s favor and ordered the University of Iowa to reinstate the student club, noting that a number of other religious student groups had not been deregistered. Instead, the school responded by deregistering another 38 student groups.
One of those groups was InterVarsity Christian Fellowship, who then filed a companion lawsuit in 2018, alleging the university had singled out religious groups for discrimination.
In July, a federal appeals court ruled in favor of the student groups, saying the university’s actions were unconstitutional and that the school “targeted religious groups for differential treatment under the human rights policy — while carving out exemptions and ignoring other violative groups with missions they presumably supported.”
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The Iowa Gazette reported Becket would receive $1.4 million in attorney fees from the university for representing Business Leaders in Christ and $553,508 for representing InterVarsity Christian Fellowship. InterVarsity will receive $20,000 in damages from the university.