University of Florida forced to pay up after denying conservative group their First Amendment rights

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In what is being considered a Constitutional win for free speech, the University of Florida was ordered to pay out $66,000 to their Young Americans for Freedom (YAF) chapter. They were also made to amend their policy to allow more financial resources to be utilized by conservative groups on their campus.

The university sparked anger in December of last year after they deemed the YAF to be a “non-budgeted group,” which would force the conservative students to petition the school every single time they needed money for an event. This was more than inconvenient, it could have allowed the college to control the YAF’s activities by denying them funding based on the nature of their events.

In addition, the previous policy denied the group from using any provided funds on speaker fees, meaning it effectively prevented groups like YAF from being able to bring conservative voices to the campus.

The group determined that this was a violation of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights and filed a lawsuit. It wasn’t long in court, however, as the college had no legal standing for their policy.

“[The University of Florida] realized when YAF was taking them to court they’re weren’t going to win,” said YAF spokesperson Spencer Brown in a statement to the Daily Caller. “It was very smart for them to recognize their policy was flawed the way it was set up, and that the conservative students in the YAF chapter were getting the rough end of the deal by being labeled a non-budget student organization.”

“We had the emails and facts on our side; we had the constitution on our side,” he added. “It just wasn’t worth it for them to try to prove they were doing it for some other reason. There is never any reason for violating the Constitution.”

Brown claims that conservative groups are increasingly emboldened to speak up against politically-biased sleights on campus, and it’s all thanks to President Trump’s executive order protecting free speech in colleges.

Blake Meadows, who serves as legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, condemned the University of Florida for making it more difficult for YAF to express their views on campus – a luxury afforded to nearly every other organization.

“University of Florida administrators are limiting YAF members’ First Amendment freedoms by forcing them to pay into a system that funds opposing viewpoints. Worse yet, the university forces YAF to play an arbitrary, complex game of Chutes and Ladders in the funding process, wherein the student group can continually be sent back to the beginning of the game at the sole discretion of the student government. The university also changed its rules to single out and disqualify the conservative group from receiving funding for speakers fees and honoraria—making it even more difficult for the group to express its viewpoint on campus.”

This is an absolute victory, and hopefully one of many.


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