[JURIST] Two Pennsylvania high school students filed a lawsuit [complaint, PDF] on Wednesday alleging their school district discriminated and violated their First Amendment [LII materials] rights by rejecting a proposal for an anti-abortion club. The suit was filed on behalf of the students by the Chicago-based public interest law firm, the Thomas Moore Society [advocacy website], against Parkland School District [official website]. According to the complaint, the pro-life club, Trojans for Life, was initially denied on the grounds that it was "too political and controversial" but was later rejected because it refused to abdicate rights enjoyed by other clubs such as fundraising and certain off-campus activities. The complaint states:
Defendants' conditioning establishment of Trojans for Life as a student club on Plaintiffs' waiver of rights enjoyed by other clubs at PHS, based on the content of the pro-life message of the club, denies Plaintiffs equal access and constitutes content and viewpoint-based discrimination against the pro-life message of the club, in violation of Plaintiffs' rights under the [Equal Access Act].The plaintiffs are seeking a permanent injunction against the school's policy of "unfettered discretion" concerning club approval as well as monetary damages and attorney's fees.
The topic of abortion continues to be one of the most contentious issues throughout many states in the Union. In June the US Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit rejected [JURIST report] an anti-abortion health clinic's argument that a San Francisco ordinance violated their First Amendment right to free speech. Also in June in the state of Ohio lawmakers voted [JURIST report] 24-9 in favor of a bill that would criminalize a common second trimester abortion procedure. Earlier that month the Supreme Court of Georgia barred doctors [JURIST report] from suing state over abortion law, holding that the state is immune from litigation unless it consents to being sued, rejecting a challenge to a 20-week abortion ban. The same day, Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed a series of abortion regulations into law [JURIST report]. In May Trump's administration announced [JURIST report] plans to expand the so-called Mexico City Policy blocking international family planning assistance through the US Agency for International Development to any groups or programs that provide abortion or abortion education to women. Also in May Trump signed [JURIST report] a bill into law that scales back an Obama administration regulation that protected certain federal funds for organizations that provide abortions, including Planned Parenthood [advocacy website]. In February the US House of Representatives approved a bill [JURIST report] that would overturn the Obama administration's rule prohibiting states from denying federal funding to Planned Parenthood and passed a bill [JURIST op-ed] that makes permanent restrictions on federal funding abortion. In February the Pennsylvania Senate approved SB 3 [JURIST report], putting Pennsylvania in line to become the seventeenth state to pass a bill banning abortions past 20 weeks.