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Federal judge throws out Christian fraternity's lawsuit

By The Associated Press

CHAPEL HILL, N.C. — A federal judge has thrown out a lawsuit filed by a Christian fraternity that challenged the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill's nondiscrimination policy.

U.S. District Judge Frank Bullock Jr. ruled May 4 that the 2004 lawsuit was irrelevant because the university revised its policy in May 2005.

The revised policy allows political and religious student groups to exclude members on the basis of beliefs, which was at the center of the lawsuit filed by Alpha Iota Omega.

The fraternity was stripped of its status as an official campus group because the fraternity won't accept nonbelievers or gay students. The university revoked the recognition after fraternity members refused to sign the school's nondiscrimination policy.

The fraternity sued, saying the university had violated their constitutional rights to free speech, free assembly and free exercise of religion.

Recognition gives the fraternity access to student funds and university facilities.

Alpha Iota Omega was reinstated in September 2005 following a court injunction issued six months earlier.

Group members were not available for comment for this story.

Chancellor James Moeser applauded the judge's decision.

"There is value in having a non-discrimination policy at a public university," Moeser said in the statement. "Our objective remains: seeking to carefully balance our students' First Amendment rights with the rights guaranteed by the U.S. and North Carolina Constitutions."

The Arizona-based Alliance Defense Fund, which represented Alpha Iota Omega in court, expressed disappointment with Bullock's decision. The group noted that the lawsuit did lead to a change in policy at the university.


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