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U. Washington Republicans Sue School Over Patriot Prayer Event

Group says UW is violating its constitutional rights by demanding a $17,000 security fee.

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The University of Washington College Republicans filed a lawsuit against their college on Tuesday, claiming the $17,000 security fee school officials are charging them to hold a rally amounts to a free speech violation.

The Republicans have planned an event featuring Joey Gibson, head of the conservative group Patriot Prayer, for Saturday on the Seattle-area campus.

UW counters that most student groups are charged some type of fee when they hold organized events on campus and that the Republicans do not have to pay before the event takes place.

oey Gibson of Patriot Prayer at a rally in Seattle, WA (Image: By Tiffany Von Arnim via Wikimedia Commons)

According to KUOW, attorney Bill Becker is representing the group and he is outraged by the fee:

“The university is charging an exorbitantly excessive fee to the College Republicans based on the fear that there will be violent disrupters at this event. No other group to our knowledge has ever been charged anything even close to that amount,” Becker said. 

The lawsuit calls the fee “draconian and unreasonable,” and Becker said UW shouldn’t be allowed to pass on high security costs to the College Republicans because their views are unpopular.

The Republicans, who held an event featuring right-wing figure Milo Yiannopoulos last year at one which person was shot, claim in the lawsuit that fee process essentially bans “the expression of conservative viewpoints on the UW Seattle campus.”

University officials counter that many factors are taken into account when setting a fee, including prior history of the group and the invited guests.

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