A student organization on a university campus has been caught demanding that all recipients of the school’s funding programs come into alignment on the issue of abortion, and support it.
Only as a government operation, that’s called “viewpoint discrimination” and it’s illegal.
That’s the message that’s being delivered to officials in the student government at the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill.
There, the president of the student government recently issued an order that cuts off funding “to any individual, business, or organization” that advocates for pro-life causes.
The Foundation for Individual Rights and Express said it has written to the organization insisting that that order be rescinded.
Government money must, the foundation documented, be handed out in a “viewpoint-neutral manner.”
“This is blatant viewpoint discrimination and a clear violation of fundamental First Amendment rights,” said FIRE attorney Zach Greenberg.
He was the author of the letter warning about the constitutional violations.
“A student government should represent the entire student body, not abuse its power by seeking to censor classmates with opposing views,” he explained.
The school’s student government unleashed its order on July 6, demanding that no funding be allowed for any group that “advocates to further limit by law access to reproductive healthcare.”
FIRE reported, “It is unclear exactly what types of funding requests are subject to the executive branch’s unconstitutional and discriminatory prohibition. The student senate also handles funding requests and, to date, has not taken the same viewpoint discriminatory stance.”
One of the affected groups, Students for Life, had protested the decision.
FIRE explained, “As a public institution, UNC Chapel Hill is bound by the First Amendment, which precludes the school from discriminating against student groups based on viewpoint. The student government is therefore constitutionally required to distribute funds in a viewpoint-neutral manner.
“Additionally, UNC Chapel Hill makes strong commitments to free speech, earning FIRE’s highest, ‘green light’ rating.”
“UNC Chapel Hill’s student government cannot declare itself the arbiter of which opinions are acceptable,” said Greenberg. “We call on these student leaders to uphold their constituents’ free speech rights by doling out funds in a viewpoint-neutral manner.”
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