Canadian Court Rules University Can Shut Down Pro-Life Student’s Group’s Free Speech Rights

International   |   Conor Beck   |   Apr 20, 2016   |   12:06PM   |   Victoria, British Columbia

Pro-life activists at the University of Victoria in Canada have lost a free-speech battle through British Columbia’s highest court on Monday.

The decision was not even close. The Times Colonist reports the British Columbia Court of Appeals unanimously rejected arguments by a pro-life student club that insisted the university consider freedom of expression when restricting use of campus common space.

The pro-life group Youth Protecting Youth was approved for a demonstration by the university in January 2013. Its permit was revoked after it came to light that the group had been “sanctioned … for allegedly harassing students.” The report did not give any details about what the alleged harassment incident involved.

The group decided to hold its planned demonstration anyway. The University of Victoria responded by “suspending the club’s outdoor space booking privileges for one year and warned members that any future disregard of its directions could result in discipline,” according to the report.

The group’s legal challenge failed, but there is still some hope for the pro-life group if it appeals to the Supreme Court of Canada.

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A relatively recent United States Supreme Court case on free speech for pro-lifers had the court unanimously affirm the right for pro-lifers to talk to those entering abortion clinics in Massachusetts. Though the cases are very different, history has shown that free speech for pro-lifers is not quite the right it is often thought to be.