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Court Upholds Authority of Police at Religiously Affiliated Colleges

The North Carolina Supreme Court has upheld the powers of campus police departments at religiously affiliated colleges and universities.

The decision reverses a state appeals court ruling. The case stems from a drunken driving arrest made in 2006 by police at Davidson College, a private institution in Davidson, N.C., affiliated with the Presbyterian Church. The driver challenged the arrest, arguing that delegating police authority to a religious institution was unconstitutional.

The court ruled that Davidson, although affiliated with a church denomination, is in practice a secular institution.

"We affirm the trial court’s determination that Davidson College is not a church and that its primary purpose is not religious in nature," the Supreme Court decision states. "…The statutory provision of police protection for the students, faculty and staff at Davidson, an educational institution with the primary purpose of secular education, does not result in excessive entanglement between church and state."

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