Last fall, the Colorado School of Mines believed it would run afoul of the Constitution’s Establishment Clause after a donor to its athletic complex wanted a nameplate with a — gasp! — Bible reference on it.
As a result, it refused the reference. The donor, Michael Lucas, responded by filing a lawsuit.
The school has now countered — by deciding to remove all nameplates from its football locker room.
Not only that, but CSM has terminated the nameplate fundraising program entirely, and as such puts the kibosh on the lawsuit brought forth by Lucas.
In a letter to donors to the program, School of Mines President Paul Johnson wrote that all of the nameplates had been removed and that participants have the option to transfer their donation to a different program with different nameplates that don’t allow any personalized message. Although the original program allowed individuals to express a personalized message on their nameplates without any stated restrictions, the school oddly claims in the letter that it didn’t intend to allow “individual expression.”
“The school initially imposed no restrictions – or even guidelines – on the type of message a donor could include, and contrary to what the school argued, the First Amendment protects – not restricts – a simple reference to a Bible verse in this context,” said ADF Senior Counsel David Hacker. “Because the school apparently feared a simple Scripture reference would be like asbestos on the locker room walls, it decided to purge any trace of free expression from the facility.”
During the initial controversy, CSM issued a statement noting that “As a state institution, Mines is bound by the U.S. Constitution and the university’s policy prohibiting unlawful discrimination by promoting or supporting one faith or belief over others.”
Lucas had wanted “Colossians 3:23 and Micah 5:9” on his nameplate. CSM had allowed plates with the phrases “Give ‘Em Hell,” “OK Gentlemen, it’s time to gird your loins,” and “Take your whiskey clear.”