Campus Reform | Georgia Tech rejects funding for 'inherently religious' Alveda King... and gets sued

Georgia Tech rejects funding for 'inherently religious' Alveda King... and gets sued

The Students for Life chapter at Georgia Tech filed a lawsuit against the college.

The lawsuit alleges the school engaged in viewpoint discrimination when it rejected funding for Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

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Alliance Defending Freedom filed a lawsuit on behalf of the Students for Life chapter at Georgia Tech after it refused to fund Dr. Alveda King, Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.'s niece, in order to speak on campus about civil rights.

Students for Life formally requested $2,346.16 from the Student Government Association fund in September 2019 in order to host the civil rights icon's niece to speak on campus on October 1, 2019. 

After the Joint Finance Committee judged the bill as “not political or religious," according to the lawsuit, SGA senate members asked if King would talk about  “abortion or religion” since she is “inherently religious.” The SGA House questioned Students for Life member Brian Cochran asking him to “guarantee” that King would avoid topics of “religion, abortion or LGBT issues.” 

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This was in reference to King’s unapologetic religious and traditional marriage beliefs. The SGA House’s verdict rejected the request to fund King's appearance on the grounds it was “supporting a speaker that’s said such hateful, dangerous rhetoric.” 

“A  pro-life stance is certainly political, given the dividing nature of this in current national politics," one student senator said, according to the lawsuit. One House member expressed concern that King would “promote and provoke hate speech.”

The Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative, legal non-profit, filed the suit on behalf of the Students for Life on April 1. The group pointed out that every semester, all students have to pay a mandatory fee for the SGA club fund, even if speakers have opposing viewpoints. 

Previously, the suit notes the Georgia Tech SGA allowed funds to be distributed to host pro-choice Democrat speaker Andrew Gillum and the Young Democratic Socialists of America winter conference. 

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The ADF also claims this isn’t the first time Georgia Tech has been caught for “unconstitutional policies.”

Campus Reform spoke with Caleb Dalton, legal counsel for ADF. 

“I think what it shows is that there is the ability and that it actually happens that viewpoints are taken into account in funding allocations and that is unconstitutional...we’ve sued Georgia Tech University on behalf of different clients over 12 years ago on actually a very similar issue and we won that case concerning free speech zones," said Dalton.

Dalton was pointing to a case, Sklar v Clough, which was cited in this present case, warning  “the Court admonished that it was ‘not confident that Georgia Tech has appreciated the nature and degree of this problem’ and that it ‘has no doubt that (a similar) challenge will occur in the future, and it would behoove the school to prepare for that eventually...Defendants and their predecessors in office did not do so.”

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Campus Reform reached out to Students for Life, King, and the Student Government Association at Georgia Tech for comment, but did not receive a response in time for publication.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @corkery_mrose