Free Speech Victory at UC Santa Barbara

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Editor’s note: The following is a press release from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a non-profit organization dedicated to preserving civil liberties in higher education. The press release marks a hard-won victory for First Amendment rights on campus, which was achieved at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB), but carries implications that extend far beyond the university.

Last spring, UCSB’s Associated Students Finance Board denied a funding request made by the College Republicans to host David Horowitz, president of the Freedom Center. This denial was the product of viewpoint discrimination and is illegal due to Supreme Court rulings on the First Amendment that prohibit political discrimination in the distribution of student funds. The denial was rescinded, but due to an uproar from the campus Left, the amount allocated was decreased — which is also unconstitutional. Award amounts cannot be dictated by political considerations either. After pressure was brought to bear over this wrong-doing, the university ultimately over-ruled Associated Students’ funding malfeasance.

This victory demonstrates that funding discrimination for conservative speakers — a practice that is widespread in American universities — can be fought and defeated. Universities that receive public funds cannot systematically deny conservative students the funding privileges available to left-wing students in any way. This includes the lavish fees required for far-left speakers, which are often tens of thousands of dollars more than what is awarded to conservative students. When David Horowitz spoke at the University of Wisconsin in 2004, for example, students informed him that Michael Moore had been invited to speak there and was given $50,000 to do so. By law, if the College Republicans at that university were to ask for the same amount to invite their own conservative speaker, the university would be obligated to give it to them. UCSB should serve as a wake-up call to marginalized conservative students: fight for your rights on campus, because the law is behind you.

LOS ANGELES, October 10, 2011—Officials at the University of California, Santa Barbara (UCSB) have stepped in after its student government unconstitutionally denied funding for a speech by conservative activist David Horowitz. The student government had engaged in unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination on two separate occasions and then tried to hide the evidence of its wrongdoing. The College Republicans, Horowitz’s hosts, came to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for help.

“UCSB’s student government utterly refused to fulfill its constitutional duty to be viewpoint-neutral in its funding decisions,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “Thankfully, USCB has finally rectified this error and saved itself from an embarrassing and inevitably doomed fight against the First Amendment.”

In May, UCSB’s Associated Students Finance Board denied a request from the UCSB College Republicans (CRs) for $2,000 to host conservative activist David Horowitz for a speaking event. On May 3, Lucy Nguyen, Associated Students liaison to the CRs, explained that “the board believes that the dialogue between Horowitz and UCSB students will not be a constructive one.” Supreme Court precedent, however, does not allow student fee funding decisions to be based on the student government’s opinion of that speaker’s views or fears about the “dialogue” that might ensue.

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  • Bill Clausen

    These people on the Left are not true Liberals and they finally got exposed for what they are: The intolerant ideologues they accuse the other side of being.

    • mlcblog

      Absolutely correct.

      I decry the fact that the lovely word liberal, meaning free in thought, generous in nature, and tolerant for other ways of thinking has gone the way of that word we used to be able to use: gay, meaning happy and carefree, something that many who call themselves are not.

  • Majestic_One

    "Congress shall make no law…."

  • Dispozadaburka

    Push back.

  • MikeWood

    The left generally believes that anyone who does not agree with them is by virtue of this fact a "right-wing bigot", because they conflate rightwing opinions with bigotry. Rightwing and bigot have for them become synonymous. But this not only misconstrues the real meaning of bigotry, it also demonstrates how bigoted they are in the real sense of the word. A bigot is actually defined as a person whose opinions cannot be changed with reference to evidence or solid argument; it denotes inflexibility of opinion and the manner in which an opinion is held, not the position of that opinion on the political spectrum. The Left currently demonstrates far more bigotry both in their intolerance of opinions different to their own (and their attempt to suppress the expression of such opinions), as they show the inflexibility and imperviousness to evidence that is the foundation of bigotry in the true sense of the word.

  • mrbean

    This at UC Santa Barbara was an exception not the rule. The New Left's neo-Marxist vision calls for undemocratic means to establish true social justice, and the withdrawal of any tolerance for any opposing ideas to produce true non-judgemental tolerance. Ever since the 1960s, the Left's patron saint Herbert Marcuse ’s program of “repressive tolerance” has increasingly become the norm on campuses, in the mainstream media, and now in politics. More and more leftists of all persuasions welcome the most radical groups in the name of repressive tolerance, while vilifying and opposing anything that might sound the slightest bit conservative. Thanks to Marcuse, their is little free and open debate on the burning issues of the day. Only that which agrees with the left's world view is tolerated in the name of “true toleration.” Thus, campuses, the mainstream media, and leftist politics have become Orwellian Animal Farms. As in animal house, some folks are simply more equal than others.

    • mlcblog

      Sometimes you really make sense, like here.

  • steven l

    Was the ASLC penalized?
    The funding of this organization should be reviewed.
    Probably a lot of petro$ would be found!
    When did the $1,800.00 appear in the account?

  • Flipside

    Fortunately justice prevailed and checks were cashed.

  • WilliamJamesWard

    The student body who so insistantly refuse to allow equal treatment to perceived
    opposition to their views are far on their way to failure in life and build a wall
    between themselves and those who they will need in so many ways and may
    never know………………….Fighting for what is right never goes out of style.
    If the right was not tolerant would there be no repercussions nor accusations
    of "unfair" ?………………..The student board should have been removed…..William

    • Beth

      "The student board should have been removed"

      Absolutely. A leapord can not change its spots.

  • Daezy

    Excellent! and congratulations, David. If this is what it takes to keep our freedoms, I pray there are more of you, strong enough to stand up against the spreading virus of tyranny.

  • Fred

    Finally some good news. Glad to read this. Fight Fight and never back down. The left radical will continue to fight dirty anyway they can. Remember their motto is "win by any means possible"!

  • Beth

    Thank you David (and FIRE). The work that you are doing will greatly benefit the next generation.

  • trickyblain

    DH has a Constitutional right to be paid by a university to speak there?

    lol, they say liberals distort the Constitution.

    Carrot Top would get taken more seriously.

  • tanstaafl

    "Free for me, but not for thee". – the new rules from our leftist overlords.

  • maturin20

    Thank G-D the money was freed.

  • sedoanman

    I disagree. What it is going to take is for some Leftists to suffer some sort of penalty, like pay a fine or lose his job. There is no indication in this article that those responsible paid any price at all.

  • mlcblog

    It is going to take everything we've got plus prayer.

  • Free4500

    Absolutely correct. Real Pain must be felt by those responsible or they will continue. But Horowitz is the only American actually addressing this issue. Why aren't republican candidates for office addressing this? How many parents and Alumni would be shocked to know of this? But we must wake up and accept that America is over: our universities, schools, media, judiciary, and most of congress are completely controlled by marxist indoctrinated stooges. Our entire social and political elite were brainwashed by going to colleges, while we slaved to pay the bills. To pull out these roots will require a huge effort at all levels of society.