FRANKFORT - A judge will decide whether to grant summary
judgment to either side in a lawsuit over state funding for a
private university that expelled a student for being gay.
Attorneys argued on Monday for summary judgment for their
respective sides in the first courtroom hearing in the case.
A gay rights group filed suit in Franklin County Circuit Court
seeking to block an $11 million state appropriation to create a
pharmacy school at the University of the Cumberlands, a Southern
Baptist school in Williamsburg.
Timothy J. Tracey, of the Center for Law & Religious Freedom in
Springfield, Va., contended that the 2006 General Assembly acted
constitutionally when it appropriated $10 million for a building
and $1 million for scholarships.
Tracey said the legislature, by giving the money to the
University of the Cumberlands, sought to address the state's
shortage of pharmacists.
Citing a 1949 case, Tracey said the legislature's action was for
the betterment of the state's health and welfare. The legal
precedents make it clear that the legislature can give money to a
private institution if it serves a public purpose, he said.
The plaintiffs' attorney, David Tachau of Louisville, argued
that the appropriation to the university did not fall under the
heading of "health and welfare" and was instead in support of
education at a private, sectarian institution, which makes it
Tachau cited a ruling in a 1983 case that said public money
could not be used to buy textbooks for private schools.
Retired Franklin Circuit Judge Roger Crittenden, who is
presiding over the case, said he expected to rule in about 60 days.
Initially it seemed the case would significantly involve the
University of the Cumberlands ouster of gay student Jason Johnson
in April 2006. Tachau argued that the university had shown it would
not guarantee equal protection of all people, regardless of their
But attorneys' arguments focused heavily on the competing legal
interpretations of whether the $11 million state appropriation was
educational in nature or was for the state's health and welfare.