A national pro-life group claims the University at Buffalo looked the other way during an on-campus counter protest that turned ugly.
The group, in a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Buffalo, accuses UB of violating the free speech rights of pro-life advocates who organized a rally and display outside the student union in April.
The Center for Bio-Ethical Reform, the pro-life group that sponsored the event, said the suit is designed to prevent the university and its police from condoning future protests against pro-life supporters.
“We intend to bring the display back to UB," said Robert Muise, a lawyer for the American Freedom Law Center, which is representing the group. “This suit is about protecting and preserving free speech."
The suit seeks no monetary damages but does ask the court to declare that UB violated the constitutional rights of two students – Christian Andzel and Matthew Ramsey – and the UB Students for Life group.
The group claims its rally, a university-approved event, was disrupted when pro-choice supporters showed up and began waving white sheets in front of the display and otherwise interfering with its pro-life message.
UB, in a statement, said it does not comment on pending litigation and referred the media to its policy about freedom of expression at on-campus events,
“As a public university," the statement said, “it is a fundamental value of UB that all members of the campus community and their invited guests have a right to peacefully express their views and opinions, regardless of whether others may disagree with those expressions."
The suit came just weeks after a Amherst town judge dismissed charges against a UB adjunct professor, who is pro-choice, stemming from her confrontation with university police at the same pro-life event.
The incident, caught on video and posted on the web, attracted national attention.