by Max Brantley
The Arkansas legislature — particularly the dictatorial John Burris and David Sanders — should be required to read an important 1st Amendment decision today by the U.S. Supreme Court. The full text of the opinion is here. Chief Justice John Roberts wrote the opinion for a 6-2 court.
The Court said it was a 1st Amendment violation for the government to require private health agencies seeking government money to denounce prostitution.
It's kind of like if, say, an Arkansas legislator tried to prevent Affordable Care Act money from going to an agency that doesn't renounce legal abortion.
Even better reading is a 1988 Arkansas case in which the University of Arkansas lost its effort to prevent public money from going to a gay and lesbian students association. Said the 8th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals:
In brief, we hold that a public body that chooses to fund speech or expression must do so even-handedly, without discriminating among recipients on the basis of their ideology. The University need not supply funds to student organizations; but once having decided to do so, it is bound by the First Amendment to act without regard to the content of the ideas being expressed. This will mean, to use Holmes's phrase, that the taxpayers will occasionally be obligated to support not only the thought of which they approve, but also the thought that they hate. That is one of the fundamental premises of American law.
Burris, Sanders and the rest of the Republican initimidators hate the 1st Amendment. Sadly, they have press enablers in their war on free speech.
And there's a recent federal case in North Carolina directly on the question of discriminating against Planned Parenthood:
“Although state may choose not to fund abortions or abortion-related services, state may not condition participation in government program or receipt of government benefit upon applicant's exercise of protected rights, such as right to advocate for and provide abortion-related services.”
PS: Things have improved at UA, by the way.
June, chosen in commemoration of the 1969 Stonewall Riots, is national Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgender (LGBT) Pride Month in the United States. With this exhibit, the University of Arkansas Libraries Special Collections recognizes Arkansas LGBT history and those individuals whose lives "outside of the closet" contribute to discussions of sexual and gender identities and debates over civil liberties in the state and the nation.
Special Collections brings you "Out of the Closet," a selection of materials reflecting these varied experiences on the University of Arkansas, Fayetteville campus, throughout the state, and in native literary culture.
They better hope Burris and Sanders don't read about this.