A legal firm filed a lawsuit last week on behalf of a pro-life group forced to pay hundreds of dollars in order to exercise its free speech rights on a New York university campus.
University at Buffalo school officials charged UB Students for Life nearly $650 for sponsoring an on-campus abortion debate that they claimed was “controversial.” The school did not charge any fees to a group holding a similar event on campus in the same building at the same time.
“University officials cannot arbitrarily decide to deem an event ‘controversial’ and then weight down students with burdensome fees to engage in constitutionally protected free speech,” said David Hacker, senior legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), representing the group.
UB Students for Life is an officially recognized student organization at the university. School officials required the group to pay for campus security officers. The other group, which hosted a debate between a Christian and an atheist, was not required to pay any security fees.
The First Amendment protects student organizations, Hacker explained.
“Public universities should encourage, not stifle, the free exchange of ideas.”