The University of Missouri at Kansas City (UMKC), a public university, recognized over 100 student groups. UMKC regularly allowed student groups to use university facilities for meetings, in accordance with UMKC’s stated policy of encouraging the activities of student organizations. Cornerstone was a religious student group at UMKC. In 1977, UMKC told Cornerstone that it could not meet in the university’s facilities because a university regulation prohibited the use of university facilities for religious worship or religious teaching. Clark Vincent and other Cornerstone members (plaintiffs) brought an action in federal court against UMKC Dean of Students Gary Widmar and the University’s Board of Curators (defendants), challenging the regulation. The district court upheld the regulation, but the appellate court reversed. The United States Supreme Court granted certiorari.