University of Michigan Law School
Civil Rights Litigation Clearinghouse
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Case Name Alpha Iota Omega Christian Fraternity v. Moeser FA-NC-0001
Docket / Court 1:04cv00765 ( M.D. N.C. )
State/Territory North Carolina
Case Type(s) Speech and Religious Freedom
Case Summary
The plaintiffs in this case were a Christian student organization at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Alpha Iota Omega Christian Fraternity (AIO) - and two of its members. As a prerequisite to receive official recognition from the University, student organizations had to agree with ... read more >
The plaintiffs in this case were a Christian student organization at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill - Alpha Iota Omega Christian Fraternity (AIO) - and two of its members. As a prerequisite to receive official recognition from the University, student organizations had to agree with the University's Non-Discrimination Policy, which prohibited discrimination on the basis of the student's religion or sexual orientation. The Policy conflicted with AIO's own policy that required its members and officers to be Christian and heterosexual. AIO refused to sign the Policy, and as a result, the University denied AIO official recognition and accompanying benefits.

The plaintiffs challenged the constitutionality of the Policy, filing a lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of North Carolina, under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, against the University on August 25, 2004. Represented by private counsel, the plaintiffs sought injunctive and declaratory relief. They alleged that the University's policy was unconstitutional both facially and as applied, in violation of their rights to Freedom of Speech, Freedom of Association and Free Exercise of Religion.

At the February 16, 2005 hearing, the District Court (Judge Frank W. Bullock, Jr.) denied the University's motion to dismiss the case. On March 2, 2005, Judge Bullock granted a preliminary injunction motion to the plaintiffs, prohibiting the University from applying the Policy to student organizations that sought official recognition. Alpha Iota Omega Christian Fraternity v. Moeser, 2005 WL 1720903 (M.D.N.C. Mar. 2, 2005).

On March 23, 2005, the University voluntarily changed the Policy, offering official recognition to student organizations that select their members on the basis of commitment to a set of beliefs. In September, 2005, the plaintiffs applied for and received recognition. The University filed a second motion to dismiss the case, arguing that the recent developments had resolved the plaintiffs' claims.

On May 4, 2006, Judge Bullock granted the University's motion to dismiss the case and denied the plaintiffs' motion to amend their complaint. Alpha Iota Omega Christian Fraternity v. Moeser, 2006 WL 1286186 (M.D.N.C. May 4, 2006). Judge Bullock rejected the plaintiffs' fear that without a court-issued injunction, the University would in bad faith revert to the old policy and deprive them of the official recognition after the lawsuit ended. The Court also refused to award attorneys' fees and litigation costs to the plaintiffs, because they did not qualify as prevailing parties under the current case law. This ended the case.

Emma Bao - 06/25/2013


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Issues and Causes of Action
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Issues
Constitutional Clause
Free Exercise Clause
Freedom of speech/association
Content of Injunction
Preliminary relief granted
Defendant-type
College/University
General
Religious programs / policies
School/University policies
Plaintiff Type
Private Plaintiff
Type of Facility
Government-run
Causes of Action 42 U.S.C. § 1983
Defendant(s) University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill
Plaintiff Description A campus Christian fraternity, which required its members and officers to be Christians and adhere to a statement of faith, refusing to sign the non-discrimination policy as a condition of receiving official recognition from the university, subsequently denied official recognition and accompanying benefits and privileges by the university.
Indexed Lawyer Organizations None on record
Class action status sought No
Class action status granted No
Prevailing Party Plaintiff
Public Int. Lawyer No
Nature of Relief Injunction / Injunctive-like Settlement
Preliminary injunction / Temp. restraining order
Source of Relief Litigation
Form of Settlement None on record
Order Duration 2005 - 2006
Case Closing Year 2006
Case Ongoing No
Docket(s)
1:04−cv−00765 (M.D. N.C.) 06/06/2006
FA-NC-0001-9000.pdf | Detail
PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
General Documents
Verified Complaint for Injunctive and Declaratory Relief and Nominal Damages 08/25/2004
FA-NC-0001-0001.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order [Denying Motion to Remove Case from Mediation] 10/06/2004 (M.D. N.C.)
FA-NC-0001-0002.pdf | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Order and Preliminary Injunction 03/02/2005 (2005 WL 1720903) (M.D. N.C.)
FA-NC-0001-0003.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Memorandum Opinion [Granting Motion to Dismiss] 05/04/2006 (2006 WL 1286186) (M.D. N.C.)
FA-NC-0001-0004.pdf | WESTLAW | Detail
Document Source: PACER [Public Access to Court Electronic Records]
Judges Bullock, Frank William Jr. (M.D. N.C.)
FA-NC-0001-0003 | FA-NC-0001-0004 | FA-NC-0001-9000
Eliason, Russell Allen (M.D. N.C.) [Magistrate]
FA-NC-0001-0002
Monitors/Masters None on record
Plaintiff's Lawyers Bull, Benjamin W. (Arizona)
FA-NC-0001-0001 | FA-NC-0001-9000
Carden, Joshua W. (Arizona)
FA-NC-0001-0001 | FA-NC-0001-9000
French, David A (Tennessee)
FA-NC-0001-9000
Lorence, Jordan W. (District of Columbia)
FA-NC-0001-0001 | FA-NC-0001-9000
Schmidt, Robert Michael (North Carolina)
FA-NC-0001-0001 | FA-NC-0001-9000
Shafer, Jeffrey A (District of Columbia)
FA-NC-0001-9000
Defendant's Lawyers Rutledge, Joyce S (North Carolina)
FA-NC-0001-9000
Scherer, John P II (North Carolina)
FA-NC-0001-9000
Ziko, Thomas J (North Carolina)
FA-NC-0001-9000
Other Lawyers None on record

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