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Alliance Alert

Jun 7, 2017

What Campus Speech Policies Have to do with the Unborn

College campuses have been prohibiting students from distributing copies of the U.S. Constitution, some going so far as arresting the students for engaging in free speech protected by the very document they were handing out.

Pro-life students are facing even more issues on college campuses across the nation.

Over at the ADF blog, Natalie Wyman lists five Students for Life groups that ADF has represented so far in 2017:

  1. Kutztown University of Pennsylvania: Students for Life participated in National Pro-Life Chalk Day by chalking pro-life messages on various sidewalks around campus, but university officials erased those messages. Thankfully, the school has since revised its policies, protecting freedom of speech for Students for Life and all other students.
  2. Queens College: Students for Life was denied the ability to form an official club and meet on campus, a right that pro-abortion groups already exercise. After the ADF Center for Academic Freedom sued the school, it immediatelygranted Students for Life official club status. The case is still ongoing, but Students for Life is officially on campus, which is a huge win for freedom.
  3. Colorado State University: Students for Life was denied access to funds from mandatory student activity fees purely because its speaker was pro-life. On May 30, ADF reached asettlement agreement with the school that eliminated the unconstitutional policies and paid the group the money that the university had withheld. 
  4. California State University San Marcos: Students for Life was denied $500 in funding to host a visiting speaker, even though the university funds pro-abortion and other favored views with almost $300,000 in student fees. Partnering with ADF, Students for Life is taking on this violation of the rights of all students, seeking to ensure a true marketplace of ideas – including pro-life ideas – on this campus.
  5. Fresno State University:[...] a professor and several students he recruited erased Fresno State Students for Life’s chalked messages and told the students that they could only express themselves in the so-called “free speech area.” One problem. Fresno State actually has no such area, and the group obtained approval for its messages in advance. Again, ADF represents Students for Life in taking on this blatant violation of the First Amendment.  

This is, of course, a relatively small sample. Alliance Defending Freedom has fought for students' religious freedom and speech rights for more than two decades. In fact, way back in 1995, ADF provided funding and amicus support for a case in which the Supreme Court determined that a university engaged in illegal viewpoint discrimination when it denied funding to a Christian newspaper.

Public universities do not have the authority to censor speech on campus, whether the student is publishing a newspaper, chalking pro-life messages on a sidewalk, or handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution.

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