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Georgia Tech Settles Lawsuit with Pro-Life Student Group for $50K

— October 2, 2020

Georgia Tech recently agreed to fork over $50,000 to settle a lawsuit filed by Students for Life, a pro-life student group.

The Georgia Institute of Technology recently agreed to settle a lawsuit with Student’s for Life, a pro-life student group. The suit was filed shortly after the university refused to “sponsor an event featuring Alveda King, the niece of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.” The suit, which was filed by Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal nonprofit, noted the pro-life group was denied “$2,346.16 to host King,” and argued that, like other student groups, “Students for Life had the right to access university funding for their programs.”

According to the lawsuit, Georgia Tech’s student government pushed back against the group’s request and asked “Students for Life to guarantee that King would not discuss religion, abortion, or LGBT issues.” Not long after, the pro-life group sought out Alliance Defending Freedom and filed the suit. Eventually, the university agreed to revise some of its policies so that “student groups would receive funding through a viewpoint-neutral decision-making criteria.” Once those policy changes were made, Students for Life agreed to settle the suit. As part of the settlement, Georgia Tech will pay $50,000 in damages and attorneys’ fees.

Close-up of gavel; image by Bill Oxford, via
Close-up of gavel; image by Bill Oxford, via

When commenting on the matter, Caleb Dalton, the Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel, said:

“Public universities are supposed to welcome diverse viewpoints and can’t treat some student groups worse than others simply because they disagree with what the students have to say…Georgia Tech’s previous policy allowed discrimination against Ms. King because she was accused of leading an ‘inherently religious’ life. Under such a standard, MLK himself would not be welcome on campus.”

He also noted that every student that attends Georgia Tech is required to pay student activity fees. The student government then uses those fees to help fund extracurricular activities, including events like the one Student’s for Life requested funding for. Dalton said:

“The university is respecting our clients’ First Amendment freedoms and better living up to its duty to offer a marketplace of ideas, where diverse viewpoints should be encouraged, not shut down.”

An anonymous student stepped forward to chime in and said:

“Especially coming from a public institution, it’s concerning that this went unresolved for so long…I hope to see Georgia Tech having more speakers like this in the future, ones that go against the status quo and challenge popular belief. I consider this an integral part of my education, no matter where you stand on particular topics, there’s always something to gain.”

Georgia Tech issued the following statement:

“The First Amendment guarantees of free expression are an essential cornerstone to the advancement of knowledge. Georgia Tech is pleased with the policies, as they reflect our commitment to upholding these important principles.”


Georgia Tech coughs up $50k to settle free speech lawsuit involving MLK’s niece

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