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