Pro-Life group forced by the University of New Mexico sues after being forced to pay for “free” speech

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A basic tenant of simple fairness is that people who create the mess ought to pay to clean it up, but that’s not the way the University of New Mexico sees it.

They want the victims of leftist protests, violence, and threats to pay the costs.

But this Pro-Life group won’t stand for it and is suing this university for how they were treated.

Students for Life hire the Alliance for Defending Freedom to push back on University of New Mexico

Students for Life of America (SFL) is an organization dedicated to protecting the right-to-life for the unborn, and this year they launched a series of speeches at 10 college campuses. 

President Kristan Hawkins traveled from Campbell University in North Carolina to UCLA in California.

However, SFL hit a roadblock when planning for the event at the University of New Mexico. 

According to the University police department, there were concerns about security, and the group needed to cover security fees to the tune of over $7,000. 

But that turned out to be a false concern.

Now the Alliance for Defending Freedom (ADF) is defending SFL in a lawsuit against the University of New Mexico over what they call “unconstitutional” efforts to suppress freedom of speech on their campus. 

ADF says that UNM was using the fees to deter the Pro-Life group from speaking on their campus.

The attorneys say the University should void the bill and absolve them of the debt.

After University police raised concerns “there were no protestors and few security issues”

Travis Barham, senior counsel, explained that despite concerns by the campus police, there was no valid reason to bill the group for additional security. 

“Ms. Hawkins’ lecture generated no security issues. Unlike the prior events Lt. Stump relied on for his quotes, there were no threats regarding this event and no advertisements urging people to protest,” he wrote.

The University claimed that there were major concerns about disruptions on the campus and chose to assign more than 30 officers to keep the peace. 

As Ms. Hawkins spoke it became clear that “there were no protestors and few security issues.” 

Following the event, UNM issued a new bill that was reduced to approximately $5,500 to reflect a decreased need for security. 

That led them to filing a lawsuit “to insist that the University rescind this bill, as it represents an unconstitutional viewpoint-based fee,” Barham wrote in a letter to the University.

“Some might consider Student for Life’s pro-life views controversial, but this is the reason for granting the speech more protection, not for charging it higher fees,” Barham argued.

UNM released a statement claiming that they were not discriminating but Hawkins doesn’t buy it.

Students for Life “should not be forced to pay a free speech fine”

In a statement to The Christian Post, UNM claimed it “encourages student groups to sponsor events on campus and provide extensive staff resources to aid their endeavors” adding that they simply “took reasonable actions to protect all persons exercising their constitutional rights to speak.”

“UNM embraces the opportunity to learn from each event on campus and is committed to continuously reviewing and improving its processes and policies” to provide necessary protections. 

The University claims they adjusted the fee after “lower than expected turnout.”

Hawkins says that Pro-Life organizations “should not be forced to pay a free speech fine.”

“The trend of schools using fees and security costs as a deterrent to pro-life student activity is not only unconstitutional, but it also contradicts the very nature of education itself…” she continued.

“Educators are supposed to bring ideas and people together for an informed and constructive debate,” Hawkins explained.

Informed American will keep you up-to-date on any developments to this ongoing story.