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University at Buffalo replaces one unconstitutional policy with another

ADF attorneys represent Young Americans for Freedom chapter in lawsuit
University campus

BUFFALO, N.Y. – A month after Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a lawsuit against the University at Buffalo and its Student Association on behalf of a student organization and three students, the Student Association rescinded its policy that unconstitutionally banned student groups from affiliating with national organizations. But it replaced the policy with another unconstitutional one that requires student organizations and their leaders to give up their legal rights in order for the clubs to be officially recognized.

The Student Association originally implemented a policy that derecognized the chapter of Young Americans for Freedom and barred it from receiving the same benefits as other student groups because it is a chapter of a national organization, Young America’s Foundation. While the university rescinded the policy that led to that, the new policy requires that club leaders certify that they surrender their, and their organization’s, right to file a lawsuit against the university or its officials in the future, exist as a legal entity under state law, have financial accounts as an organization, and enter into agreements with other individuals or organizations. As a result, ADF attorneys amended their lawsuit Wednesday in University at Buffalo Young Americans for Freedom v. University at Buffalo Student Association to challenge the new policy.

“First, officials at the University at Buffalo violated Young Americans for Freedom’s constitutionally protected freedom to assemble and speak. Then, instead of protecting a learning environment where all ideas and viewpoints are welcome, the university gave the Student Association free reign to continue implementing unconstitutional policies like the new one,” said ADF Senior Counsel Caleb Dalton. “Public universities can’t punish students because of their political or religious viewpoints, affiliation with a national organization, or for taking legal action when their constitutional rights have been trampled on.”

Young Americans for Freedom has existed as a registered student organization on the UB campus since 2017, and for the last two years, the student group has had more than 100 members and has held weekly meetings on campus. As a chapter of Young America’s Foundation, UB Young Americans for Freedom’s purpose is to provide an environment for the students of UB to learn about U.S. history, the U.S. Constitution, individual freedom, a strong national defense, free enterprise, and other topics. Like other clubs, Young Americans for Freedom fulfills its mission by engaging in expressive activities on campus, including posting flyers and signs, hosting tables with information, inviting speakers to campus, and talking with fellow students.

Denis Kitchen, one of more than 4,700 attorneys in the ADF Attorney Network, is serving as local counsel on behalf of Young Americans for Freedom and the students.

The ADF Center for Academic Freedom is dedicated to protecting First Amendment and related freedoms for students and faculty so that everyone can freely participate in the marketplace of ideas without fear of government censorship.

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Caleb Dalton
Caleb Dalton
Senior Counsel
Caleb Dalton serves as senior counsel with Alliance Defending Freedom, where he plays a key role at the Center for Academic Freedom.