Pro-life club files free speech lawsuit against CSU

Aaron Lambert

After being denied a grant to host a pro-life speaker, CSU Students for Life, a pro-life club at Colorado State University, has filed a lawsuit against the college.

The lawsuit in question started in October of last year, after the school denied the club funds to host pro-life speaker Josh Brahm, who was to give a talk titled, “Bodily Rights: The Ultimate Abortion Argument.”

The group applied for a diversity grant in September of last year to host Brahm, but was denied it because the school felt that the “speaker’s content does not appear entirely unbiased as it addresses the topic of abortion, and that people will not feel affirmed while attending the event.”

Emily Faulkner, founder and president of CSU Students for Life, pursued legal action after the denial, saying it was an attack on the group’s right to free speech. The lawsuit was filed citing unbridled discretion and viewpoint discrimination as the causes.

“They really had no criteria for denying us the grant except based on the point that they didn’t like our viewpoint,” Faulkner told the Denver Catholic.

Faulkner and the group are seeking $600 in compensatory damages, the original amount for the grant, as well as the amount of student fees paid for by each member of the group. Student fess fund the money allocated for CSU’s diversity grants, which are designed to “support programs that enhance the educational and cultural aspects of the university community and raise awareness of differing perspectives,” according to CSU Lory Student Center’s website.

More than a religious freedom issue, Faulkner said that when faced with this situation, she felt obligated to defend her right–and everybody’s right–to free speech.

“Universities are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas, and we’re supposed to be exposed to different opinions and values and ideals, and be provoked and challenged,” she said. “As an advocate for free speech and as a lover of the Constitution and of this country, I find it is my duty to stand and say no.”

CSU was served with the lawsuit the last week of January, and has 30 days to respond. As of this writing, CSU has not issued any sort of statement. However, the school has temporarily suspended the diversity grant program “to review the processes and procedures involved in the grant process,” and “to address problems that have come to light with the existing process and ensure it is managed in keeping with our legal and ethical obligations to all students, the First Amendment, and our institutional commitment to the free and open exchange of ideas.”

Featured image by Spilly816 – Own work, CC BY-SA 3.0, https://commons.wikimedia.org/w/index.php?curid=17379398

COMING UP: PHOTO GALLERY: Celebrate Life march and rally 2017

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On Saturday, Jan. 14, hundreds gathered at the state capitol for the Celebrate Life march and rally. A crowd filled with pro-life advocates both young and old marched down the streets of downtown Denver in what was an impressive show of pro-life support. Masses were held at several parishes in Denver beforehand, including the Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception, and the rally featured addresses by Archbishop Samuel J. Aquila, Real Life Catholic founder Chris Stefanick, and former Planned Parenthood employee turned pro-life advocate Abby Johnson.

Denver Catholic photographer Andrew Wright was there to capture the joyful occasion.

All photos by Andrew Wright

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The Cathedral Basilica of the Immaculate Conception was filled to standing room only for the Mass prior to the rally and march.

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An overwhelming number of young people came to the march, proving that a new generation of pro-life advocates is on the rise.

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Archbishop Aquila addressed the crowd gathered outside the capitol, urging them to not be afraid to stand up for life in the public square.

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Real Life Catholic founder Chris Stefanick riled the crowd with an enthusiastic talk before the march. He also pointed out that the term “life” does not apply solely to the unborn; he said the march was also a protest for immigrants, the homeless and the sick.

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Abby Johnson, who has gained fame for becoming a fierce pro-life advocate after being employed by Planned Parenthood, also addressed the crowd. She noted that the pro-life movement has changed and is no longer simply about defending the unborn; she called it a “pro-woman” movement.

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The wide array of ethnicities and cultural backgrounds at the march showed that the act of defending life crosses boundaries and is a sign of universal love and care.

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Doves were released before the march as a symbol of the presence of the Holy Spirit.

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The march filled the length of the streets of Denver and spilled over onto the sidewalks. Police escorts were there to ensure the march could progress safely and uninterrupted.