Colorado School of Mines has received recent attention after a lawsuit has been brought up against the school regarding the placement of bible verses on a donor’s plaque.
Mike Lucas, a graduate and former football player at Mines, made a donation to the athletic department and in return, received a plaque in the locker room in Marv Kay Stadium. On his plaque, Lucas desired to have Colossians 3:23 and Micah 5:9 engraved. However, because of the permanence of the plaque on campus, the school, being a public institution, denied the message as it would appear to endorse and favor one religion over all others.
This decision was further supported in the Walker v. Texas Div., Sons of Confederate Veterans, Inc.. Supreme Court case in which the state of Texas was sued for not allowing a specialty license plate. In its ruling in favor of the state of Texas, the Court designated the license plate as government speech, which is not protected to the same extent as private speech under the First Amendment.
The school has until December 1st to respond to the lawsuit and released the following statement on October 5:
“Colorado School of Mines strongly disagrees with the assertion made in a lawsuit filed Oct. 1 that the university impermissibly restricted a donor’s speech based on religious or viewpoint discrimination. The Mines community is made up of many faiths and beliefs and the university aims to foster a supportive and inclusive environment for all.”
As part of the fundraising efforts for Clear Creek Athletic Complex, donors were provided an opportunity to place a recognition plaque on a locker. One donor requested to place two Biblical citations on a plaque. Under recent United States Supreme Court case law, the speech at issue is considered government speech, as it would have been permanently inscribed on university-owned property. As a state institution, Mines must not appear to promote or support one faith or belief over others.
University officials worked with the donor to come to an agreement on an inscription that reflected his intentions and was consistent with Mines’ obligations as a public university. The plaque with the agreed upon inscription was installed and is currently on display in the football team’s locker room.”