(Freedomjournal.org) – Pro-lifers received a major victory in California recently. A federal lawsuit brought by a pro-life student group at the San Marcos campus of California State University resulted in the group receiving $240,000 in legal fees and $3,000 in damages from the university. The federal court that heard the case said the policies of the university “unconstitutionally discriminated against views the university didn’t favor.”
The Alliance Defending Freedom brought the lawsuit on behalf of the Students for Life group because it believed the university was denying to fund pro-life speakers while at the same time using fees from the student government to sponsor the Gender Equity Center and LGBQTA Pride Center.
The center was reportedly receiving almost $300,000 every year from mandatory fees students are required to pay the student government, and those funds came with no restrictions. Other student groups such as the SFL, meanwhile, were only allowed to even apply for up to $500 in funding for each semester, and those funds were not allowed to be used to pay for speakers or honoraria.
A statement from the ADF read, in part:
“In the 2016-2017 academic year, the Gender Equity Center and the LGBQTA Pride Center received a combined $296,498 to fund its activities — 57 times more than all other 100 student groups combined — compared to the less than $6,000 that was actually distributed to all 100 other student groups.”
CSU agreed that it will revise its policies, as part of the settlement, so it won’t discriminate against or for any viewpoint across any of its 23 campuses statewide. The student government must also make sure it doesn’t “discriminate against any funding request based on the viewpoint to be expressed by the RSO or proposed event.” When applications for funding are either reduced or denied, the student government must provide clear reasoning for its decision as well as a “right of prompt appeal.”
In addition, the settlement will bar the Gender Equality Center and LGBTQA Pride Center from receiving any funds from the student fees, and that will be retroactive to July 1, 2019. Further, the student government is barred from using any of the mandatory student fees “unless and until” it adopts the “viewpoint-neutral criteria for funding applications.”
When the lawsuit began in 2017, the ADF produced a video that included these thoughts from Nathan Apodaca, the former president of the SFL:
“Just because an idea might offend us doesn’t mean it’s wrong, and just because we’re completely OK with a certain idea doesn’t mean it’s right.”
Caleb Dalton, who served as the legal counsel for ADF in the case, said, “Ultimately, our clients’ goal was to ensure the policies were changed and all students’ freedoms are protected,” according to The College Fix.
The organization Students for Life of America celebrated the decision. Kristan Hawkins, president of the organization, said, “public universities have no right to use their power, including mandatory student fees, to fund speech they prefer while blocking speech they don’t like. Because of the initiative and courage of student leaders at Cal State-San Marcos, pro-life students at public universities across California will benefit from the administration’s policy reversal.
“Pro-life students should have every opportunity available to them that pro-abortion students enjoy, and anything less is a failure on the part of the university to abide by the First Amendment. Schools cannot use the power of the purse to punish students who value mothers as well as their preborn babies.”