College student government bans contracts with pro-lifers, bans funding for groups that oppose abortion

College student government bans contracts with pro-lifers, bans funding for groups that oppose abortion

The head of the student government of the University of North Carolina-Chapel Hill has issued an executive order banning contracts with pro-lifers and cutting off funding to any student group that advocates restrictions on abortion.

The executive order states

That it shall be prohibited for the Undergraduate Student Government Executive Branch to contract or expend funds to any individual, business, or organization which actively advocates to further limit by law access to reproductive healthcare, including, though not limited to, contraception and induced abortions.

UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh says this is “a clear violation of the First Amendment,” because

  1. Under Board of Regents v. Southworth (2000), public university student government are generally subject to the same First Amendment limits imposed on public entities more generally.

  2. When it comes to generally available student group funding, Southworth and Rosenberger v. Rector (1995) make clear that the government can’t discriminate based on the student group’s viewpoint.

  3. And when it comes to contracting, Board of Comm’rs v. Umbehr (1996) holds that the government generally can’t discriminate based on contractors’ ideological expression, either.

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education also says this requirement violates the First Amendment rights of student groups.

All governing bodies described in this Constitution [which include the Student Body President] shall adhere to the University Non-Discrimination Policy, and shall not discriminate in matters of policy or financial allocation on the basis of age, gender, race, color, national origin, religion, creed, political ideology, political affiliation, political party, disability, veteran status, sexual orientation, gender identity, gender expression, or genetic information.

As Professor Volokh notes, this logically “means that they can’t discriminate based on the political ideology that potential recipients express, and not just on the political ideology that the recipients silently hold.”

The College Fix reported on the controversy, noting that the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education sent the Undergraduate Student Government a letter telling it that it “may not condition campus group funding on adherence to those [pro-choice] viewpoints”:

“UNC Chapel Hill’s student government cannot declare itself the arbiter of which opinions are acceptable,” letter author Zach Greenberg stated in a news release.

“We call on these student leaders to uphold their constituents’ free speech rights by doling out funds in a viewpoint-neutral manner,” Greenberg, a senior program officer in campus rights advocacy, stated….The campus Students for Life group criticized the executive order. Its July 11 letter called the executive order and the sponsorship of a pro-choice rally “radical” and “one-sided.” The student government sponsored a “Redirect the Rage” rally, organized in response to the June 24 Dobbs decision.

LU Staff

LU Staff

Promoting and defending liberty, as defined by the nation’s founders, requires both facts and philosophical thought, transcending all elements of our culture, from partisan politics to social issues, the workings of government, and entertainment and off-duty interests. Liberty Unyielding is committed to bringing together voices that will fuel the flame of liberty, with a dialogue that is lively and informative.


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