FRANKFORT, Ky. (BP)–The case involving state funding for a new pharmacy school at the University of the Cumberlands has reached the Kentucky Supreme Court.
The state Court of Appeals Dec. 18 granted Cumberland’s appeal of a decision handed down last March that prohibited the Baptist-affiliated university from receiving $10 million in state funds to construct a pharmacy school building at the Williamsburg campus.
Franklin County Circuit Court Judge Roger Crittenden ruled that the funding and an additional $2 million appropriated for scholarships violated the state constitution as “a direct payment to a non-public religious school for educational purposes.”
Kentucky legislators approved the $12 million package for the University of the Cumberlands in April 2006. The money was intended to provide “an opportunity to improve the health and welfare of the people of Kentucky, especially those in the Appalachian region,” according to a statement released by the university. A homosexual rights group and several state legislators immediately sued then-Gov. Ernie Fletcher, complaining that giving public funds to a private institution violated the state constitution.
The grant gained special attention because it coincided with the university’s decision to expel former student Jason Johnson, who used his MySpace.com website to publicize his homosexual relationship with a student at another school — contrary to the university’s guidelines for student conduct.
University of the Cumberlands President James Taylor declined to comment regarding the appeals process and the future of the case.
According to the political website, PageOneKentucky.com, oral arguments in the case could begin in early spring.
Drew Nichter is news director of the Western Recorder, newsjournal of the Kentucky Baptist Convention.