NC Senate Passes Bill Said To Protects Students' 1st Amendment Rights

RALEIGH, N.C. (AP) -- Legislation allowing student groups to block members from leadership roles if they don't adhere to the organization's religious or political beliefs has passed the state Senate.

The Senate on Thursday unanimously approved a bill its sponsors say protects First Amendment rights at University of North Carolina campuses.

Republican Sen. Dan Soucek of Boone said his talks with Christian student organizations convinced him the state needs a law allowing groups to bar members from leadership positions without risking the loss of university funding.

Some Democratic lawmakers have questioned whether the bill violates anti-discrimination policies. Legislative staffers said a 2010 U.S. Supreme Court ruling upholding a California school's decision to deny recognition to a Christian group accused of discrimination doesn't apply in this case.

The measure now heads to the House.