Colorado Christian University v. Baker

Freedom of Expression & Religion | Racial Justice
Case No. 07-1247, Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals
ACLU Case No. 2007-13


Colorado Christian University (CCU) challenges a Colorado program that provides tuition assistance to college students but exempts students who are attending an education institution classified as “pervasively sectarian.”   CCU did not challenge its classification as “pervasively sectarian.”  Instead, it argues that Colorado’s statute violates CCU’s right to the free exercise of religion and its right to equal protection of the laws.  

Under the Supreme Court’s more recent interpretations of the Establishment Clause, the State of Colorado would not violate the Constitution if its tuition assistance program were to include students attending a school like CCU.  The legal question is whether the state of Colorado remains free, under the federal Constitution, to choose to assist students attending secular and nonsectarian colleges while denying similar funding to students attending “pervasively sectarian”
The district court held that Colorado’s program did not violate the federal Constitution.  It held that the program was rationally related to Colorado’s interest in complying with a state constitutional provision, Article IX, Section 7, that forbids government financial assistance to sectarian institutions. CCU appealed to the Tenth Circuit, and the ACLU of Colorado joined an amicus brief—along with the American Jewish Congress, Americans United for Separation of Church and State and others–supporting the State of Colorado’s position and the district court’s resolution of the claims.
Additional organizations: American Jewish Congress, Americans United for Separation of Church and State, American Civil Liberties Union, People for the American Way Foundation, Anti-Defamation League, American Federation of Teachers, American Jewish Committee


Mark Silverstein , ACLU of Colorado Legal Director

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