Arizona Judge Suggests Pro-Life Group Settle Case With Arizona State University
by Steven Ertelt
October 20, 2009
Tucson, AZ (LifeNews.com) — An Arizona judge has suggested that a pro-life student group settle its free speech case with Arizona State University. The case, ASU Students for Life v. Crow, deals extensively with the rights a university has to place insurance limits on off-campus groups.
Members of the ASU Students for Life attempted in December 2005 to reserve several speech zones on campus to display a pro-life exhibit, according to the Alliance Defense Fund, which has been defending ASU Students for Life.
ASU granted the group only one zone and required the group to show proof of insurance, an order not found in written policy.
For a subsequent event in April 2006, ASU Students for Life was again required to obtain insurance even though this event only involved sitting at a table on campus and passing out literature.
ASU Students for Life argues ASU officials discriminated against it and ASU attorneys say the university has implemented and then modified a written policy that loosens the requirements since the incident.
But attorneys for ADF and the pro-life students maintain that there are still concerns about damages and future problems.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals’ chief judge, Alex Kozinski, told lawyers on both sides that it might be better to attempt to settle the case out of court rather than to have the appeals court weigh in on the matter.
Heather Gebelin Hacker, staff counsel with the Alliance Defense Fund, presented oral arguments today in the case.
Hacker said, Pro-life student groups shouldn’t have a price tag placed upon expression of their beliefs. Forcing any student group to pay for insurance in order to exercise their right to free speech guaranteed under the First Amendment is unconstitutional.
The case was heard originally in March 2008 by an Arizona district court.
The court did not support the ASU Students for Lifes claims, noting that the group was required to have insurance. It also found that the regulation was not viewpoint discrimination.
Retired Supreme Court Justice Sandra Day OConnor participated in the hearings as she was sitting in for two days on the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals.
The hearings took place at Arizona State Universitys College of Law, for which OConnor is the namesake.
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