When you think about the scope of your First Amendment rights, you may not realize that financial measures can infringe upon your free speech — but what if it cost you to give your own opinion? Unfortunately, this is exactly the constitutional violation that the Students for Life of America (SFLA) group at the University of Cincinnati (called the UC Students for Life) recently experienced. Here’s what happened when the university attempted to put a price tag on pro-life rhetoric:
Earlier this semester, the UC Students for Life were excited to host SFLA President Kristan Hawkins on her speaking tour entitled “Make Abortion Illegal Again.” The event was a huge success, and many students came away with a positive experience and pro-life seeds planted.
However, despite no prior agreement and a lack of notice given to the group, the UC Students for Life were charged a security fee by their school administration — and the almost $300 bill raised the very expensive concern that their public university was discriminating against their viewpoint. Given these concerns, SFLA legal counsel sent a swift demand letter to the school, reading:
“The University of Cincinnati’s imposition of security fees on US SFL was based on the content and viewpoint of the speech, and as such is a violation of the Constitution. Schools may not require student Students for Life of America groups to pay security fees for an event simply because the anticipated speech might be disfavored by listeners.”
Unfortunately, this isn’t the only time school administrators have forced pro-life students to pay sudden and last-minute security fees, either. Click HERE to read how Clemson University in South Carolina was attempting to force their SFLA group to shoulder thousands of dollars in unannounced and non-agreed upon fees.
SFLA Legal Correspondent Olivia Garza commented on the trend, “Our team has been noticing this happening a lot recently. In fact, I have spoken with several other students this month alone with the same kind of problem, and we tell them the same thing each time: You shouldn’t have to pay for your speech just because someone else is threatening it. It’s on the school to deal with pro-abortion students causing trouble — not on peaceful pro-life students who are merely using their First Amendment rights.”
Stay tuned for new details on this case as we wait for the school’s response to the demand letter, as well as to hear further stories from other students facing discrimination by their administrators.
(Click HERE to read about another school using a caution sign to warn of pro-life free speech.)
If you are experiencing free speech issues in your own pro-life activism, contact [email protected] for advice and legal help. You have a right under the First Amendment for a voice, and we all have a duty to use that voice for the voiceless — the preborn. If our voice isn’t being used or is being silenced by members of the abortion lobby, we won’t be able to make a difference for life — so contact us if you are experiencing this form of oppression.
EDITOR’S NOTE: After SFLA stepped in and worked with the students, this issue has now been resolved. The school has cleared the fee and recognized that they violated the First Amendment.
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