Administrators at the University of Alabama (UA) are doing the seemingly impossible: bringing pro-choice and pro-life forces together to agree with one another. Unfortunately for the university, what both sides agree upon is that UA administrators are completely in the wrong when it comes to free speech. UA’s decision to order the pro-choice Alabama Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Justice (AASRJ) student group to stop passing out flyers in response to a pro-life display on campus has been roundly bashed, even by the sponsors of the pro-life display, Bama Students for Life. On Sunday, the editors of UA’s hometown newspaper, The Tuscaloosa News, editorialized in favor of the right of pro-choice students to speak out despite their disagreement with AASRJ’s message, saying, What the group calls “reproductive justice” we would call an unjust taking of life. Abortions are wrong and far too easy to obtain. Elbein and other members of the group would disagree. And we believe that they should have a right to disagree and make their disagreement heard.[...]If everyone who merely wishes to stand in a public place at the university and distribute literature needs to fill out applications for permits, we have a problem with that. So should anyone who takes the First Amendment to the U.S. Constitution seriously. Darn right. It’s time for UA to acknowledge that its grounds use policy is broken and issue a fix that will allow students to speak out freely on matters of public importance. That’s one thing even opponents in our society’s hottest social debates can agree upon.
Will the Court upend First Amendment protections for social media platforms in NetChoice v. Paxton? Let’s hope not.