Supreme Court To Hear Student Fee Dispute

The United States Supreme Court will hear arguments on Tuesday over whether public universities can use mandatory student activity fees to subsidize groups on campus that pursue political goals. The case stems from a lawsuit filed by a law student at the University of Wisconsin, Scott Southworth, who claimed along with other conservative law students “We didn’t believe that any student should have to pay fees that went to groups that they object to on a personal, ideological or religious basis.”

The 7th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Southworth declaring that student activity subsidies unlawfully force some students to subsidize views they deem objectionable. Their decision was based on a 1995 Supreme Court ruling that established that public universities and colleges cannot create a “public forum” for students and then refuse to subsidize some student groups because of their viewpoint.

University of Wisconsin spokeswoman Sharyn Wisniewski said the school appealed the ruling because the fees help pay for a system that creates a forum for students to discuss and deal with issues that might not exist without fee-supported groups. The Supreme Court ruling on student activity fees will affect feminist, lesbian and gay, and pro-choice student groups on campuses across the country.


AP - November 8, 1999

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