State Attorney General Challenges Eastern Michigan's Dismissal of Student

March 15, 2011

Michigan's attorney general has taken a side in Eastern Michigan University's legal dispute with a former student over the right of public universities to enforce anti-bias rules as a requirement for recognition of student organizations -- the student's side. Bill Schuette, the state's top lawyer, has filed a friend of the court brief in a federal appeals court siding with Julea Ward, who was dismissed from Eastern Michigan's counseling program in 2009 for declining to advise gay students in an affirming way -- in conflict, the university said, with its own anti-bias rules and the standards of national counseling associations. A federal judge last summer upheld Eastern Michigan's right to dismiss Ward, rejecting her claims that it had infringed her religious freedom. University officials said in a statement Monday that the arguments in the attorney general's brief relied on "factual distortions" made by Ward.

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