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When issuing the regulation, the Education Department acknowledged that it had received complaints from college leaders that “a State’s role may extend into defining, for example, curriculum, teaching methods, subject matter content, faculty qualifications, and learning outcomes.” Others feared that states might “impose homogeneity upon institutions that would compromise their unique missions.”

In response, federal officials simply agreed that the new regulation does “not limit a State’s oversight of institutions.”

It seems that the Obama administration perceives few limits on government power over higher education - whether at the state or the federal level - even when the First Amendment rights of religious colleges are threatened.

Meanwhile, though, we can take comfort in small victories. With every struggle, the plight of religious organizations becomes more apparent, and that in itself is an important step toward restoring respect for religious freedom in America.

Patrick J. Reilly is president of the Cardinal Newman Society, which works to renew and strengthen Catholic identity in Catholic higher education.