The Arizona Board of Regents did not infringe on the First Amendment rights of the Arizona Students’ Association when they ended the practice of automatically collecting a $2 fee from all students for the benefit of the Association, according to a federal judge.
Federal Judge John Sedwick found that the Board did not act in retaliation against the Association when it made the $2 fee optional. The group alleged that the regents changed the policy in retaliation of for their support of Proposition 204, which the Governor opposed.
Sedwick found that there was never a requirement that the regents collect the fee.
Five public university students said their First Amendment rights were violated when the Arizona Students Association (ASA) used mandatory tuition surcharges to support a 2012 ballot initiative that the students opposed had requested the right to join the Arizona Board of Regents (ABOR) in a lawsuit with the ASA.
The Goldwater Institute believed that the practice of mandatory dues-collection for the Student Association violated their First Amendment rights, because they were forced to subsidize political activity they didn’t agree with.
The Arizona Board of Regents, which oversees the three public universities in the state, voted to end a policy that diverted mandatory tuition surcharges to the Students Association, a private group that lobbies on behalf of Arizona’s 130,000 public university students.
The Students Association, which traditionally generates most of its income from $2-semester fees on public university students’ tuition bills, then sued the Regents over policy change. The Regents’ decision to end the mandatory dues collection came on the heels of a Goldwater Institute investigative report revealing that the Students Association was directing significant resources toward political activism, including a $120,000 donation to Prop 204, a proposed $1 billion state sales tax increase on the November 2012 ballot.