Washington University: Mandatory University Viewpoint

Category: Free Speech, Freedom of Conscience
Schools: Washington University in St. Louis

The Student Bar Association (SBA) at Washington University School of Law voted 27-6, with 4 abstentions, to recognize Law Students Pro-Life. This vote overturned two earlier decisions that denied recognition to Law Students Pro-Life, the critical first vote having been 27-10-1 against the group. In a September 9, 2002 letter of rejection to Law Students Pro-Life, the SBA termed "the catching issue" what they labeled "the narrowness of the group’s interests and goals." The SBA "felt that the organization was not touching on all possible Pro-Life issues" because it did not have an "anti-death penalty" position in its constitution. FIRE wrote the chancellor of Washington University and the dean of the law school objecting because the SBA had engaged in a double standard and had violated Washington University’s commitment to free speech and free religion. After receiving no response, FIRE took the case public, formed an alliance with the Eastern Missouri ACLU and organized a petition signed by professors, law students, undergraduates, and private citizens from around the country. "FIRE’s advocacy made all the difference," said Jordan Siverd, chairman of Law Students Pro-Life.




  • Open Letter From the ACLU and FIRE

    October 11, 2002

    An Open Letter from the American Civil Liberties Union of Eastern Missouri and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education to the Student Bar Association, Washington University School of Law October 11, 2002 Dear Members of the Student Bar Association, We were both surprised and profoundly disappointed to learn of your most recent meeting, at which the Student Bar Association (SBA) left unchanged its decision not to recognize Law Students Pro-Life (LSPL) as a legitimate student group at Washington University School of Law (WUSL). We hoped that, with time and further thought, LSPL’s right to exist would become as clear […]

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  • Law School Dean Joel Seligman’s Response to Critics

    October 10, 2002

    From: Marjorie Anderson [mailto:manderson@wulaw.wustl.edu] Sent: Thursday, October 10, 2002 2:59 PM To: rz[...] Subject: Re: Say It Isn’t So! Due to the overwhelming number of emails, I am helping Dean Seligman answer all incoming mail. In response to your email, Dean Seligman replies: “Thank you for your recent email. The SBA and the ProLife students have been meeting and in the normal course of events, the ProLife student’s application for recognition will be considered again and I suspect ultimately adopted. I have been far more impressed by the ProLife students here who have recently been constructive and worked to secure […]

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  • Double Standard at Washington University, Saint Louis

    October 9, 2002

    ST. LOUIS, MO—Washington University in Saint Louis, under Chancellor Mark Stephen Wrighton and Law School Dean Joel Seligman, knowingly has permitted an official University agency to deny recognition of a student organization because of the group’s refusal to adopt the University’s political view of the group’s moral mission. “Washington University’s chancellor has condoned intolerable restrictions on freedom of conscience, freedom of association, and freedom of speech. Washington University, known historically as a great center of inquiry and debate, is acting as a politically orthodox campus that denies intellectual pluralism and diversity,” said Alan Charles Kors, president of the Foundation for […]

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  • FIRE’s letter to WUSL Chancellor Mark Stephen Wrighton

    September 30, 2002

    September 30, 2002 Mark Stephen Wrighton Chancellor, Washington University in St. Louis Chancellor’s Office, Box 1192 One Brookings Drive St. Louis, MO 63130 Dear Chancellor Wrighton, As you can see from our directors and board of advisors, FIRE unites civil rights and civil liberties leaders, scholars, journalists, and public intellectuals across the political and ideological spectrum on behalf of liberty, academic freedom, due process, legal equality and, in the case of Washington University’s Law Students Pro-Life, voluntary association, freedom of speech, and religious liberty on America’s college campuses. Our web page, www.thefire.org, will give you a greater sense of our […]

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  • SBA President Elliott Friedman’s Letter to Law Students Pro-Life

    September 10, 2002

    —–Original Message—– From: Elliott Friedman [mailto:emfriedm@wulaw.wustl.edu] Sent: Tuesday, September 10, 2002 12:06 AM To: Jordan Siverd Subject: Law Students ProLife Jordan, By a vote of 27-10-1, Law Students ProLife did not pass approval of the Student Bar Association at Washington University School of Law to be considered an active student organization. The representatives of SBA voiced their concern as follows: 1) The title of your organization did not represent adequately the goals and initiatives of the organization. By taking away the “anti-death penalty” issue from your Constitution, several students felt that the organization was not touching on all possible Pro […]

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