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Students for Life group files free speech lawsuit against CSU

CSU Students for Life, a pro-life club at Colorado State University, filed a federal lawsuit against CSU on Tuesday for denying funding to a pro-life speaker event.

The event, titled “Bodily Rights: The Ultimate Abortion Argument,” would have featured Josh Brahm, president of the Equal Rights Institute, a national organization dedicated to training pro-life advocates for dialogue and outreach.

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In a press release to the Collegian, the group claimed CSU denied funding to the event due to the speaker’s pro-life views.The lawsuit claims this is a violation of the First Amendment, which protects the freedom of speech in the U.S.

Emily Faulkner, president of CSU Students for Life and a senior biology major, said filing the lawsuit was about protecting the freedom of speech and had nothing to do with abortion.

“Free speech on a public university should be a no-brainer,” Faulkner said.

The student group applied for a diversity grant in September 2015 to host Brahm. In November 2016, the group brought Dr. Alveda King to speak at the Lory Student Center.

The proposal was denied because the event did not seem unbiased, and the committee worried attendees from various sides of the issues “won’t necessarily feel affirmed while attending the event.”

“In another example of bias against the pro-life position, CSU felt they had the right to deny the Students for Life group funding just because the speaker was presenting arguments from a position they didn’t agree with,” wrote Kristan Hawkins, president of the national organization Students for Life of America. “CSU played favorites while stifling free speech, a typical response of abortion advocates who prefer to silence opposition rather than have a free exchange of ideas.”

The lawsuit was filed on behalf of CSU Students for Life by attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative Christian nonprofit organization.

Although the University charged Students for Life members the same mandatory activity fees that all students pay to fund the grants, the lawsuit claims Students for Life members were not allowed to benefit from the grant as other students can.

“Colorado State University funded the advocacy of its preferred student organizations but has excluded Students for Life from consideration based purely upon the viewpoint expressed in its funding request to bring a speaker to campus,” wrote ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer. “Because of the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech, courts have repeatedly rejected this discriminatory treatment as unconstitutional.”

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The lawsuit, Students for Life at Colorado State University v. Mosher, states public universities cannot discriminate against student speech in a public forum on the basis of a content or viewpoint. The complaint asks the court to halt the University from applying a double-standard by funding other groups’ speaker events on similar topics.

The lawsuit also argues CSU has funded other events like the one the students applied for in the past. Since Students for Life pay the same mandatory activity fees as other students in order to fund grants, the lawsuit states the students are “entitled to viewpoint neutral access to student fees allocated by the University.”

CSU is reviewing the issues and claims raised and will respond accordingly, according to Mike Hooker, CSU executive director of public affairs and communications. Right now, the University will not comment on the pending litigation.

Collegian News Editor Seth Bodine can be reached at news@collegian.com or on Twitter @sbodine120.

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  • H

    Howard GaskillJan 21, 2017 at 9:36 am

    As an alumnus I’m disappointed on my schools decision on this subject. I know nothing about the speaker in question but unless he’s an advocate for violence his expenses should have been covered by student fees.
    Come on, CSU. Broaden your viewpoint.

    Reply
  • M

    Menachem MevashirJan 19, 2017 at 9:14 am

    Reply
    • A

      aceJan 21, 2017 at 8:38 am

      Reply
  • M

    Menachem MevashirJan 18, 2017 at 12:59 pm

    http://equalrightsinstitute.com/staff/josh-brahm/
    https://collegian.com/2017/01/students-for-life-group-files-free-speech-lawsuit-against-csu/
    http://www.adfmedia.org/files/StudentsForLifeCSUcomplaint.pdf
    http://denver.cbslocal.com/2017/01/18/csu-student-organization-says-university-denied-funding-for-pro-life-speaker/
    http://www.denverpost.com/2017/01/18/pro-life-student-group-sues-csu-campus-speaker-grant/

    Dear Josh,

    I think the pro-life position could be bolstered with the following insights:

    1. You should call yourselves both pro-life and pro-choice, since G+D asks us to Choose Life.

    2. I think you should recognize that when a woman conceives a child out of wedlock (for whatever reason) she is under a biblical curse. G+D knows that it is very risky for a woman to get pregnant and have a child. She requires the assurance of marriage to safeguard her and the baby. So when a woman becomes pregnant outside of marriage, we need to understand and accept that her default position is going to be to abort the child. This would help the pro-life movement mobilize resources to promote adoption and also not to be so judgmental of women who are tempted to abort in these circumstances.

    3. A commonly used argument by pro-abortion advocates is that in Exodus 22 the bible seems not to deem abortion a capital crime. (This is according to the most liberal interpretations.) This is misleading since the case in question is an accidental miscarriage not a deliberate abortion. Also even in this most liberal perspective on this case the bible fines the perpetrator whose actions caused the miscarriage. No one should pretend this passage endorses deliberate premeditated abortion! Indeed it seems that in the biblical view, it is almost inconceivable for any woman to want to abort her own child!No one should pretend this passage endorses deliberate premeditated abortion! Indeed it seems that in the biblical view, it is almost inconceivable for any woman to want to abort her own child!

    Exodus 21:22-25 New International Version (NIV)
    22 “If people are fighting and hit a pregnant woman and she gives birth prematurely[a] but there is no serious injury, the offender must be fined whatever the woman’s husband demands and the court allows. 23 But if there is serious injury, you are to take life for life, 24 eye for eye, tooth for tooth, hand for hand, foot for foot, 25 burn for burn, wound for wound, bruise for bruise.
    Footnotes:
    a. Exodus 21:22 Or she has a miscarriage

    Thanks for letting me express these views, and thanks for your good work!

    I lived in Israel for 18 years as an Orthodox Jew before my conversion to Christianity.

    Menachem Mevashir – http://yahuwallah.blogspot.com/

    PS This is a superb book (written by a pro-life Catholic professor in Englanbd) that explores every aspect of this problem:

    The Soul of the Embryo: An Enquiry into the Status of the Human Embryo in the Christian Tradition Dec 23, 2004 by David Albert Jones
    https://www.amazon.com/Soul-Embryo-Enquiry-Christian-Tradition/dp/0826462960/ref=la_B001HCX30Y_1_2?s=books&ie=UTF8&qid=1484767726&sr=1-2
    ________________________________________
    We are delighted to announce that this book has been short listed for the prestigious Michael Ramsey prize for the best in theological writing. For more information please visit: http://www.michaelramseyprize.org.uk A radical examination of the Christian tradition relating to the human embryo and how this relates to the debate today.In recent years, the moral status of the human embryo has come to the fore as a vital issue for a range of contemporary ethical debates: concerning the over-production, freezing and discarding of embryos in IVF; concerning the use of ‘spare’ embryos for scientific experimentation; and finally, concerning the prospect of producing clone embryos. These debates have involved not only general philosophical arguments, but also specifically religious arguments. Many participants have attempted to find precedent from the Christian tradition for the positions they wish to defend.It is therefore extraordinary that until The Soul of the Embryo there has been no significant work on the history of Christian reflection on the human embryo. Here, David Albert Jones seeks to tell the story of this unfolding tradition – a story that encompasses many different medical, moral, philosophical and theological themes. He starts by examining the understanding of the embryo in the Hebrew Scritpures, then moves through early Christianity and the Middle Ages to the Reformation and beyond. Finally, Albert Jones considers the application of this developed tradition to contemporary situation and questions which contemporary Christian view or views are best regarded as authentic developments of the tradition and which should be regarded as alien to the tradition.
    ________________________________________
    Editorial Reviews
    Review
    “…a fascinating historical study of what people have thought, from the earliest biblical times, about the human soul before birth”. — The Daily Telegraph

    “The book presents a scholarly yet accessible interdisciplinary analysis of the tradition of the Christian thinking on the status of the embryo, and a careful, powerful and fair theological and philosophical case against the destruction of the human embryo from conception. It is to be highly recommended.” –Tablet, John Keown, 5th February 2005

    ‘A scholarly contribution to the history, background and detail of the human embryo in medical, theological and moral terms. It deserves to be studied both in itself and in the important reminder of our essential human being, where we come from, what we are and what significance we have and share in this world and in eternity’
    (E David Cook Theology)

    ‘Archbishop Rowan Williams describes the book as ‘a valuable contribution to a mist important debate’. Quite so. It is to be highly recommended.’ – Adapted from a Tablet review by John Keown, Rose Kennedy Professor of Christian Ethics at Georgetown University, in Triple Helix

    ‘In providing a systematic historical account of Christian and other approaches to the embryo, David Jones offers some fascinating material for reflection.’
    ‘…this book provides valuable material for a principled rather than merely pragmatic reflection on our attitude to this most vulnerable phase of life.’ (Andrew Fox, Epworth Review, April 2006)

    ‘The scope of his work is impressive and the topic extraordinarily significant, He deals carefully with a wide variety of primary sources, and he reflects insightfully on these sources and their theological and ethical implications…[an] important book.’
    ~ Michael J. Gorman, Studies in Christian Ethics, Vol 19, No. 1

    “David Jones (Professor of Bioethics, St Mary’s College, Twickenham) has provided a scholarly and insightful contribution to this field, with its complex intersection of theology, philosophy, ethics, jurisprudence and science.” – Reformed Theological Review

    ‘A scholarly contribution to the history, background and detail of the human embryo in medical, theological and moral terms. It deserves to be studied both in itself and in the important reminder of our essential human being, where we come from, what we are and what significance we have and share in this world and in eternity’
    (Sanford Lakoff Theology)

    ‘In providing a systematic historical account of Christian and other approaches to the embryo, David Jones offers some fascinating material for reflection.’
    ‘…this book provides valuable material for a principled rather than merely pragmatic reflection on our attitude to this most vulnerable phase of life.’ (Andrew Fox, Epworth Review, April 2006)

    ‘The scope of his work is impressive and the topic extraordinarily significant, He deals carefully with a wide variety of primary sources, and he reflects insightfully on these sources and their theological and ethical implications…[an] important book.’
    ~ Michael J. Gorman, Studies in Christian Ethics, Vol 19, No. 1

    “David Jones (Professor of Bioethics, St Mary’s College, Twickenham) has provided a scholarly and insightful contribution to this field, with its complex intersection of theology, philosophy, ethics, jurisprudence and science.” – Reformed Theological Review

    ‘A scholarly contribution to the history, background and detail of the human embryo in medical, theological and moral terms. It deserves to be studied both in itself and in the important reminder of our essential human being, where we come from, what we are and what significance we have and share in this world and in eternity’
    (Sanford Lakoff Theology)

    ‘In providing a systematic historical account of Christian and other approaches to the embryo, David Jones offers some fascinating material for reflection.’
    ‘…this book provides valuable material for a principled rather than merely pragmatic reflection on our attitude to this most vulnerable phase of life.’ (Sanford Lakoff) ________________________________________
    From the Publisher
    Few topics evoke such strong reactions among Christians and non-Christians alike as the current state of scientific experimentation on human embryos. The subject bristles with theological, philosophical and medical difficulties.
    Recent media coverage, showing 12-week old foetuses which it is claimed are able to feel pain and similar sensations, tends to be sensational and emotive in approach.
    However, The Soul of the Embryo by David Jones, is a thoughtful and dispassionate view of the way in which, from the Old Testament onwards, the status of the embryo has been viewed by religious thinkers in the Judeo-Christian tradition.
    Jones applies such insights to the contemporary situation, outlining the ways in which our current understanding and practice is either rooted in this tradition, or deviates from it.
    The Soul of the Embryo is an important work, which covers ground never previously explored in such depth and thoroughness.
    ________________________________________
    From the Author
    This enquiry is specifically concerned a Christian story. It seeks to determine what a critical engagement with legal, scientific, philosophical, ethical and theological aspects of this tradition has to teach us about the human embryo. Nevertheless, there is much of interest here for those who are not adherents of Christianity. The recognition that human life is a gift from God, that human beings
    possess a soul that is given by God is common to Jews, Muslims and many other religious traditions. Even those who are not practising members of any faith community may acknowledge a spiritual dimension to life. What is described here in the concrete and sometimes obscure theological language of Christianity relates fundamentally to the mystery of the existence of each human life. It is urged that our existence is a mystery, not only a puzzle to solve or an ambiguity to resolve. If so, then the origin of each human being should also be recognised as a profound aspect of our common humanity. The human embryo, even while it consists of a single cell or just a few cells, is nothing less than the hidden or enfolded beginning of a new human being.
    ________________________________________
    About the Author
    David Albert Jones is Director of the Anscombe Bioethics Centre, Oxford, and Visiting Professor of Bioethics at St Mary’s University College, London, UK.
    http://www.bioethics.org.uk/detail/about_us/staff_and_fellows/david-jones
    http://www.stmarys.ac.uk/education-theology-and-leadership/staff/david-jones.htm

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