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BSU should examine its First Amendment policies

BSU should examine its First Amendment policies

Geoffrey Talmon
July 2, 2014

On Monday, June 30, the Center for Defense of Liberty (CDoL) delivered a letter to Boise State University (BSU) President Bob Kustra and to the assistant vice president for student life, Jeremiah Shinn, requesting that the university refund “security fees” assessed against CDoL’s client, Young Americans for Liberty at Boise State University (YAL), in connection with an event held at BSU on May 16.

The event was a speech given by Dick Heller, the plaintiff in the landmark Second Amendment case decided by the Supreme Court of the United States affirming (among other things) the right to keep and bear arms as an individual right.

Citing alleged security concerns, BSU informed YAL that YAL would have to pay $465 in “security fees” or the event would be cancelled. As detailed in CDoL’s letter, we believe that such a practice violates YAL’s First Amendment rights. Furthermore, in researching the facts of the case and BSU’s policies, we came across other BSU policies that we believe fail to meet BSU’s obligations under the First Amendment.

On the same day that the CDoL issued its letter to BSU, the CDoL also became aware of a First Amendment lawsuit that was filed on Friday, June 27, by the Alliance Defending Liberty on behalf of another BSU student group. Furthermore, on Tuesday, July 1, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) announced its new initiative to coordinate multiple lawsuits against colleges and universities for speech codes that violate the First Amendment.

With national organizations drawing attention to potential First Amendment violations occurring on college campuses and with multiple public interest litigation organizations raising concerns about BSU’s speech policies in particular, perhaps now would be the ideal time for BSU to evaluate its speech policies and proactively work with such organizations to provide its students, its faculty and its visitors with the full protections afforded by the First Amendment.

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