As if the abortion forces in the Eastern half of the state hadn't suffered enough blows recently -- with the audit of Planned Parenthood of Spokane, Planned Parenthood being told to stay out of Pasco (for now), and Planned Parenthood being kicked out of a new health center in Walla Walla -- but now the administration of Spokane Falls Community College (SFCC) just lost a very important free speech case, thanks to the courage of one student and great legal help from the Alliance Defense Fund, and their allies.
The resolution of the closely watched case essentially amounts to a total defeat of the abortion side, including the student government of the school, the administration, and even the Attorney General's office which defended the school.
The case involved a student, Beth Sheeran, from Cheney, Washington. She simply wanted to organize some small meetings and to distribute and display some information to educate her fellow students about the plight of the unborn in this state and country, in particular those babies who are executed in utero due to biological "imperfections".
SFCC officials even went so far as to threaten Miss Sheeran, and other members of a Christian student group, with disciplinary measures, including expulsion, if they chose to hold a pro-life event on campus. The reason? Their information was deemed “discriminatory” and did not include a pro-abortion viewpoint!
According to the Miss Sheeran & the ADF, as she went up the food chain, expecting perhaps to bypass radical leftist students on student government, she instead found officials claiming college policy "prohibited one-sided events and expressive displays on campus." One-sided events not involving abortion frequently occur on the campus, it was pointed out.
Miss Sheeran was later told the group could proceed with their event providing they voted on it, but after they did so, the club’s own faculty advisor told the students their flier was “offensive” and that their event violated the district’s “Stop the Hate” policy -- as well as state law! This advisor, who rebuffed AIW's requests for an interview, said the students could face expulsion if they “offended” anyone.
AIW interviewed the various parties to the case & reviewed the legal briefs in the Spring. One surprising development not mentioned in the coverage was the fact that the State's argument did not include a defense of the college's behavior or policies, but rather a string of denials of nearly all the facts alleged by Miss Sheeran, including disputes over most dates, conversations, and decisions made.
The attorney for the college, since it's part of the Community Colleges of Spokane, and operates under the state government, was Assistant Attorney General Jerry Cartwright. He told AIW that the government had "absolutely no interest nor intention to restrict the free speech rights of anyone".
Miss Sheeran's immense courage in this whole saga is a valiant example to everyone. As a result, not only is her group finally able to tell the simple truth to SFCC students about the great human rights disaster of our time, but now anyone in the Washington State Community College system can stand on her shoulders and exercise their constitutional rights without fear.
This is because the administration and government agreed to change not just their unconstitutional "anti-hate" policies, but no less than four sections of the WAC, the Washington Administrative Code. Another element of the court order is the elimination of the Orwellian-sounding "Bias Incident Response Team".
Most other features of the college system's snitch-on-thy-conservative-neighbor regime dressed up as "anti-hate" programs are also going to be dismantled.
The college also has to pay Miss Sheeran $1,000 in damages, and cough up $45,000 to cover her legal fees.
We commend Beth Sheeran. She's a shining example to all of us. If we had half as much courage in our pulpits in this state as she has demonstrated, we would start to see the culture of death rolled back.