Attorneys representing Boise State University and a student group opposed to abortion are scheduled to meet Tuesday with U.S. Magistrate Mikel Williams to try and resolve the case.
The group Abolitionists4Life sued last year in federal court in Boise after protesting university-imposed restrictions that members said violated the group’s free speech rights.
Williams was asked by U.S. Chief District Judge B. Lynn Winmill, who is assigned to the case, to see if a settlement could be reached ahead of trial.
The lawsuit seeks an injunction against enforcing regulations requiring the group to place warning signs around campus exhibits showing images from abortions. The group also objected to what it said was uneven enforcement of the university’s free speech rules.
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The university denies doing anything wrong. It says it requires warning signs for activities that utilize “potentially offensive graphic pictures.”
One of the Abolitionists4Life exhibits included signs with images from abortions. The other featured an autopsy photo of a woman who died having an abortion. A flap that kept the photo from view had a warning on it, but university officials said separate signs were needed to warn students walking by.
Groups and individuals are free to discuss issues, hand out literature or hold signs outdoors on the BSU campus as long as they don’t block sidewalks or impede traffic. However, if groups host an event at one of 11 reserved locations designated as “public areas” in BSU policy, and “speech zones” in the lawsuit, they are prohibited from carrying out any activities simultaneously at any other campus location, according to the lawsuit.
Abolitionists4Life said other campus groups staged events and still handed out items outside of their designated zones, including a Planned Parenthood event where representatives handed out free condoms. It also said that fraternities and sororities and off-campus groups hand out literature without a speech zone reservation or outside their reserved space.
The lawsuit was brought by the Alliance Defending Freedom, a group founded by leaders from the religious right including the Rev. James Dobson of Focus on the Family, Don Wildmon of the American Family Association, the Rev. D. James Kennedy of Coral Ridge Ministries and Bill Bright of Campus Crusade for Christ.
Abolitionists4Life is one of more than 200 recognized BSU student organizations.