JASON RANTZ

In stinging defeat, UW pays nearly $130K to College Republicans

Jun 18, 2018, 1:19 PM | Updated: 4:14 pm
college republicans...
Patriot Prayer held a rally at UW, Feb. 10, 2018. It drew counter protesters. (KIRO 7)
(KIRO 7)

It turns out it doesn’t pay to silence speech you disagree with. The University of Washington reached a settlement with the UW College Republicans after the student club sued to administration for imposing onerous security fees on the club, in a purported effort to silence speech the campus administration opposed.

“We are ecstatic to have reached a settlement with UW,” said Chevy Swanson, plaintiff and president of UW College Republicans. “This is a massive win for campus Conservative groups across the country because we have just proven that these battles can be won and we expect to start seeing every public university adopt new security fee policies like UW’s in the coming years. This next year is going to huge for us because for the first time in history we will be working under fair conditions and fair cost of operations.”

The UW Republicans hoped to host Patriot Prayer founder Joey Gibson for a campus event on Red Square last February. But under the threat of protest, the school required the club to spend $17,000 in fees for security. It was a policy, critics argued, that unfairly targets conservative groups since, historically, their events are subject to greater instances of Progressive students showing up to protest.

But the school claimed the policy has always existed and it doesn’t unfairly target conservative groups.

“It’s a not a new policy,” UW Chief of Police John Vinson told me on the Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH. “In our world, we don’t necessarily categorize the groups as conservative or liberal…”

RELATED: Several fights break out at Patriot Prayer rally at UW

Well, in the legal world, it was an unconstitutional speech policy that public institutions cannot institute. Soon after the lawsuit was filed, a federal judge prohibited the UW from collecting the security fees since, if the lawsuit moved forward, the UW Republican’s position would have likely prevailed.

That’s probably why the school settled the case, which sought to delegitimize the policy in full, so it could never be administered again.

Under the terms of the settlement, not only is this UW policy put to rest, no student groups will be charged security fees, according to the California-based firm Freedom X, which represented the club. The UW has also agreed to pay $127,000 in attorney fees.

While it’s a settlement, this is a stinging defeat for UW which put politics above First Amendment rights. Consequently, this should be celebrated by campus free speech advocates — regardless of your politics. The threat of a protest should never dictate security fees for events. Under the university’s policy, any time the UW College Republicans wanted to bring a speaker to campus, a fringe Progressive group can promise mass protests — without even following through — in order to force the school to impose prohibitively expensive security fees on the club. If you can’t afford the security, you’d have to cancel the event, which, of course, silences the speech.

From a legal standpoint, it strains credulity to believe the UW thought they’d be able to successfully defend this policy in the courts. It’s why free speech advocates quickly criticized the UW.

“A university should be in the business of fostering as much expression as possible,” Ari Cohn, from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (the FIRE), told the Chronicle of Higher Education. “[UW] can’t price certain speech out of the market because it’s controversial.”

In Forsyth County v. Nationalist Movement, the Supreme Court struck down an ordinance allowing a local government to require fees for events, based on how much security would be necessary. The FIRE cited this decision when castigating the University of Arizona for imposing a $384.72 fee on a Conservative speaker there. The court wrote: “Speech cannot be financially burdened, any more than it can be punished or banned, simply because it might offend a hostile mob.”

In 2014, Boise State attempted a similar policy before it was challenged. They ended up walking back their fees on a Conservative Young Americans for Liberty event.

“In this [UW] case, the left wing activists who call themselves antifascists have been taught a lesson in constitutional law and what freedom of speech really looks like,” Freedom X attorney William Becker said in a press release. “It is fascism — not antifascism — to storm a public university campus with the goal of forcing the cancellation of politically conservative events. The UW College Republicans stood up to them, and to a university that intentionally or not rewarded agitators through its discriminatory security fee policy. “

Jason Rantz on AM 770 KTTH
  • listen to jason rantzTune in to AM 770 KTTH weekdays at 3-6pm toThe Jason Rantz Show.

Jason Rantz Show

Jason Rantz

Keith Wagoner, Secretary of State...
KTTH staff

Washington Republicans set sights on reclaiming secretary of state seat in 2022

State Sen. Keith Wagoner is hoping to become the next Republican to serve as Washington's secretary of state in the 2022 election.
14 hours ago
King County Courthouse...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: Prosecutor wants bulletproof glass to protect from criminals it lets out

The King County Prosecutor's Office is advocating for bulletproof glass to protect its offices from some of the very criminals it refuses to prosecute.
2 days ago
Aki Kurose Middle School...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: Seattle school violence surges after police ban, district won’t reconsider decision

Violence is nothing new for South Seattle. It prompted extra police patrols near at least four schools in the district, according to a police source.
3 days ago
Everett homeless camping, no sit no lie, Snohomish County...
KTTH staff

Councilmember: Snohomish County sales tax increase getting ‘rushed with minimal transparency’

Snohomish County Council could soon pass a 0.1% sales tax increase, as part of a process Councilmember Nate Nehring says is littered with issues.
6 days ago
WSU...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: WSU amplifies claim that farmers markets, food charity are ‘white supremacy’ in action

Washington State University is amplifying claims that farmers markets and food charities are examples of "white supremacy" and "white dominant culture."
7 days ago
Kshama Sawant recall debate...
Jason Rantz

Rantz: There’s only one Kshama Sawant recall result that truly matters

Socialist Seattle City Council firebrand Kshama Sawant faces voters on Dec. 7 for her recall election. There's only one result that tells us something.
8 days ago

Sponsored Articles

...

COVID Vaccine is a Game-Changer for Keeping our Kids Healthy

Snohomish Health District SPONSORED — Cheers to the parents and guardians who keep their kids safe and healthy. The dad who cooks a meal with something green in it, even though he’s tired and drive-thru burgers were tempting. The mom who calms down the little one who loudly and resolutely does NOT want to brush […]
...
Experience Anacortes

Coastal Christmas Celebration Week in Anacortes

With minimal travel time required and every activity under the sun, Anacortes is the perfect vacation spot for all ages.
...

Delayed-Onset PTSD: Signs and Symptoms

Lakeside-Milam Recovery Centers SPONSORED — You’re probably familiar with post-traumatic stress disorder. Often abbreviated as PTSD, this condition is diagnosed when a person experiences a set of symptoms for at least a month after a traumatic event. However, for some people, these issues take longer to develop. This results in a diagnosis of delayed-onset PTSD […]
...

Medicare open enrollment ends Dec. 7. Free unbiased help is here!

Washington State Office of the Insurance Commissioner SPONSORED — Medicare’s Open Enrollment Period, also called the Annual Election Period, is Oct. 15 to Dec. 7. During this time, people enrolled in Medicare can: Switch from Original Medicare to a Medicare Advantage plan and vice versa. Join, drop or switch a Part D prescription drug plan, […]
...

How to Have a Stress-Free Real Estate Experience

The real estate industry has adapted and sellers are taking full advantage of new real estate models. One of which is Every Door Real Estate.
...
IQ Air

How Poor Air Quality Is Affecting Our Future Athletes

You cannot control your child’s breathing environment 100% of the time, but you can make a huge impact.
In stinging defeat, UW pays nearly $130K to College Republicans