Brief Fact Summary. College students are challenging the use of mandatory activity fees to support organizations that they do not support.
Synopsis of Rule of Law. The First Amendment permits public universities to charge a student activity fee to fund a viewpoint neutral fund program for extracurricular student speech.
While we have spoken in terms of a wide protection for the academic freedom and autonomy that bars legislatures (and courts from imposing conditions on the spectrum of subjects taught and view-points expressed in college teaching, we have never held that universities lie entirely beyond the reach of students First Amendment rights.View Full Point of Law
Issue. Can Petitioner implement a mandatory student activity fee?
Held. Yes. Petitioner may implement the fee payment system to support the educational mission and to foster a healthy environment of debate, a free exchange of ideas. However, the funding of particular groups must be viewpoint neutral to be constitutional. Here, it appears that the financial support for groups is based on majority vote of the student body. This runs afoul of the United States Constitution because it blocks the unpopular views from being treated the same as the majority views.
Discussion. Use public forum analysis in this case because of the similarity in circumstance. Instead of demanding support the Respondent is requesting exemption from speech. Because the funding program is content neutral the students have a protected right to exclusion.