Ga. Tech Backs Off Policy Preventing MLK Niece from Speaking to Pro-Lifers

'Under such a standard, MLK himself would not be welcome on campus...'

Georgia Tech changed its policies on campus speech after being sued for not allowing Alveda King, the niece of civil rights leader Martin Luther King Jr., to visit campus to speak for Students for Life.

The public university also will pay $50,000 for damages and attorney fees, Alliance Defending Freedom reported

Students for Life were denied funding for bringing Alveda King to campus due to her “inherently religious” background. 

In response, Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian legal organization, filed a lawsuit in April naming Georgia Tech leaders, its student government association, and the state’s Board of Regents.

“Public universities are supposed to welcome diverse viewpoints and can’t treat some student groups worse than others simply because they disagree with what the students have to say,” said ADF attorney Caleb Dalton. 

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“Georgia Tech’s previous policy allowed discrimination against Ms. King because she was accused of leading an ‘inherently religious’ life,’ he continued. “Under such a standard, MLK himself would not be welcome on campus.”

The university now vows to review its policies so that all students are treated fairly, regardless of political viewpoints. 

“The First Amendment guarantees of free expression are an essential cornerstone to the advancement of knowledge,” the school said in a statement. “Georgia Tech is pleased with the policies, as they reflect our commitment to upholding these important principles.” 

Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom, said the lawsuit was aimed in part at discouraging schools from pushing an anti-free-speech agenda on students that they may take into future leadership roles.

“Thankfully, Georgia Tech has shown its renewed commitment to these principles by taking quick corrective action to revise their policies so that all student organizations are treated fairly, regardless of political or religious views,” Langhofer said. “We hope that other universities around the country will ensure their policies meet constitutional muster without the need for a lawsuit.”

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The lawsuit settled as President Donald Trump’s administration moves forward with policies that threaten funding cuts to universities that violate students’ religious liberties.

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