Boise State University: Unconstitutional Security Fees for Gun Rights Activist’s Speech

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Boise State University

In May 2014, the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) chapter at Boise State University co-sponsored an event focusing on gun rights with two off-campus groups, featuring a speech by activist and former Supreme Court litigant Dick Heller. Less than 24 hours before the event, Boise State demanded that YAL pay $465 in security fees, or have their event cancelled, due to the perception that some non-campus community members had encouraged people to carry firearms at the event—despite YAL’s public statements that Boise State rules prohibiting firearms would be in effect. On July 3, 2014, FIRE wrote to Boise State, explaining that the school’s application of its “Event Security” policy affixed an unconstitutional price tag to YAL’s expression. FIRE demanded that Boise State return the $465 fee to YAL, and revise its Event Security policy to include objective and viewpoint-neutral criteria so that student groups at Boise State are not threatened with similar unconstitutional fees in the future.

  • Boise State Gives Back ‘Security Fee’ to Group That Hosted Gun-Rights Speaker

    July 21, 2014

    By College Fix Staff at The College Fix Boise State University will give back the $465 “security fee” it charged its Young Americans for Liberty chapter to host an event with 2nd Amendment speaker Dick Heller, the Associated Press reported. The school faced heavy criticism across the ideological spectrum for the move, with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education calling the fee – which was sprung on the group less than a day before the event - a “heckler’s veto” over unpopular speech. Boise State isn’t changing its event policies, though, as requested by Idaho Freedom Foundation and American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho, university attorney […]

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  • Forced to Pay Security Fee for Gun-Rights Event, Students Demand Refund

    July 14, 2014

    By Christopher White at The College Fix Boise State University took unconstitutional actions by charging security fees to a student group that hosted a Second Amendment event featuring the lead plaintiff in the Supreme Court’s 2008 Heller decision, the students allege – adding they want their money back. The students are supported by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which jumped into the fray last week, following the lead of several Idaho groups. FIRE told the university in a letter that it violated the First Amendment rights of BSU’s Young Americans for Liberty chapter. Federal courthouse security guard Dick Heller prevailed in his challenge […]

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  • Boise State U. Charged Libertarian Students Gigantic ‘Security Fee’ to Host Pro-Gun Speaker

    July 7, 2014

    By Robby Soave at Reason Online Boise State University trampled a libertarian student club’s free speech rights by forcing the group to pay a large fee before administrators would permit a gun rights activist to speak on campus, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. The Young Americans for Liberty invited Dick Heller, one of the plaintiffs in the landmark Supreme Court Case District of Columbia v. Heller, to discuss his pro-Second Amendment views at an even in May. A mere 24 hours before the event, Boise State told YAL that the group would have to pay a $465 “security […]

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  • After Refunding Unconstitutional Security Fees, Boise State Defends Policies—Poorly

    July 21, 2014

    FIRE, the American Civil Liberties Union of Idaho (ACLU-ID), and the Idaho Freedom Foundation (IFF) all wrote to Boise State University (BSU) recently to voice concerns about the institution’s decision to charge the campus chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) an unconstitutional security fee for hosting a presentation by gun rights activist and successful Supreme Court litigant Dick Heller. Last week, BSU rescinded its invoice to YAL for $465, but Vice President and General Counsel Kevin D. Satterlee maintains that having security staff at the event “was the only rational response” to one non-student’s Facebook post indicating that he intended to bring his weapon to the event.

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  • Concern Mounts Over Boise State’s Speech Policies

    July 15, 2014

    Earlier this month, FIRE intervened at Boise State University (BSU), where administrators saddled the campus chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) with an unconstitutional security fee for hosting an event featuring gun rights activist and former Supreme Court litigant Dick Heller. BSU attempted to justify the fee by pointing to alleged concerns about a non-student encouraging attendees to openly carry firearms at the event—despite the fact that YAL had publicly cautioned that such behavior was prohibited. We warned BSU that its policies allowing the imposition of security fees on speech based on the potential reaction of listeners violate the Supreme Court’s longstanding First Amendment jurisprudence.

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  • Gun Rights Activist’s Speech Draws Unconstitutional Security Fees at Boise State

    July 7, 2014

    BOISE, Idaho, July 7, 2014—The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has intervened at Boise State University after the college charged a student group hundreds of dollars in unconstitutional security fees for hosting a speech by a gun rights activist. Boise State forced the campus chapter of Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) to pay the fees or else face the last-minute cancellation of an event featuring Dick Heller, the named plaintiff in a well-known 2008 Supreme Court case regarding the possession of firearms. “You could hardly ask for a clearer violation of a student group’s First Amendment rights,” said Peter […]

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