Duke University officials aren't yet sure whether a recent court ruling related to the powers given police officers at Davidson College, a religious institution, might apply on the Durham campus.
The N.C. Court of Appeals recently ruled that giving arrest powers to Davidson police runs afoul of the Establishment Clause of the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
"We're studying it," said Michael Schoenfeld, a Duke spokesman. "We don't think this particular ruling would have any impact on Duke."
In North Carolina, the attorney general can certify police departments at private, non-profit colleges. But the three-member appeals court deemed that doing so in Davidson's case was a constitutional violation.
Davidson was established by Presbyterians in 1837, and its close ties to the denomination were a factor in the court's decision.
Duke is affiliated with the United Methodist Church but the connection isn't as close, Schoenfeld said.
"Duke does not have a specific requirement for faculty, staff, students or the president to be a particular denomination or to attend church," he said.
Davidson students, faculty and staff aren't required to go to church or have a specific religious affiliation, but students are required to take a religion course and faculty members must be Christians or "non-Christian persons who can work with respect for the Christian tradition even if they cannot conscientiously join it and who can live in harmony with the purpose of the college," according to the court ruling.
Attorney General Roy Cooper's office will ask the N.C. Supreme Court to review the appeals court ruling.