A district court judge ruled that a California-based university mistreated a pro-life student group when it rejected their request for funding for an event, even though the money came from a mandatory student fee.
District Judge M. James Lorenz of the Southern District of California issued an order Tuesday that concluded California State University of San Marcos engaged in viewpoint discrimination against the Students for Life chapter.
At issue was the university’s mandatory student fees that go to Associated Students, Inc. to fund student group events and how in 2017 ASI refused to provide funds for an SFL event featuring University of North Carolina-Wilmington professor Mike Adams.
“The Court disagrees with Defendants that the [ASI Leadership Fund] funding process disburses the mandatory ASI fee based on viewpoint-neutral criteria,” Lorenz wrote in this decision.
“Although the ALF Guidelines set forth deadlines by which the ALF applications must be submitted by [recognized student organizations] and a policy to distribute ALF funding on a first come, first served basis, which the Court find are viewpoint neutral, the Guidelines do not contain any express policy prohibiting viewpoint discrimination …”
Lorenz added that the guidelines for funding “provide the decision-making officials unbridled discretion to promote or suppress certain viewpoints through the allocation of ALF funds.”
“To the extent the Guidelines are unrelated to a program’s content or otherwise facially valid, this order should have no effect,” the judge added.
“However, the ALF Fund cannot use the mandatory fees of objecting students until specific and detailed standards guiding decision making is adopted.”
Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said in a statement released Wednesday that public universities like CSUSM “have no right to use their power, including mandatory student fees, to restrict speech they don’t agree with or particularly like.”
“Thankfully, the court agrees that forcing students to pay into a system that treats their peers unfairly is a disservice to the entire Cal State-San Marcos student body and flatly unconstitutional,” Hawkins said.
“Pro-life students should have every opportunity available to them that pro-abortion students have, and anything less is a failure on the part of Cal State-San Marcos to abide by the First Amendment."