Pro-life students filed a lawsuit Wednesday against Georgia Tech, accusing its student government of discriminating against Martin Luther King Jr.’s niece Alveda King.
Represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, students with Georgia Tech Students for Life said they asked the Student Government Association to reimburse their club for the costs to host King as a speaker on campus.
However, the Student Government Association refused their request, claiming King is “inherently religious” and her pro-life views could be offensive, according to the lawsuit.
“The student government discriminated against the viewpoints of Students for Life and Ms. King in favor of the views of students the SGA members were afraid to offend,” said ADF senior counsel Tyson Langhofer.
King is a celebrated pro-life and civil rights leader, a frequent commentator on Fox News and a strong supporter of President Donald Trump. In September, she spoke at Georgia Tech about her civil rights work and encouraged students to continue the cause.
In most cases, student government associations reimburse clubs for the expenses of hosting a speaker like King on campus. All students pay into a student activities fund to help pay for such events.
In this case, however, two student leaders of the pro-life club paid for the event themselves because the student government association refused to, ADF legal counsel Caleb Dalton told the Atlanta Journal Constitution.
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“Public universities are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas, but that marketplace can’t function if a university grants funding only to student groups whose views the university favors,” Dalton said. “Georgia Tech’s policy allowed discrimination against Ms. King because she was accused of leading an ‘inherently religious’ life. Under such a standard, MLK himself would not be welcome on campus.”
In a statement to the local newspaper, Georgia Tech said it cannot comment on the pending litigation, but it believes freedom of expression is an “essential cornerstone to the advancement of knowledge.”
Dalton said public universities that collect student activity fees are required to distribute the funds in a viewpoint-neutral manner, and Georgia Tech did not.
“The primary goal is to have equal access to funding from the mandatory student fees on campus that all students pay,” he told the newspaper. “The very fact that the student government can consider Alveda King’s religious or political views is the whole problem.”
Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins said student pro-life clubs face opposition all across the country.
“The Constitution is clear that public universities can’t engage in the type of discrimination that has taken place at Georgia Tech,” Hawkins said.