On behalf of Turning Point, Alliance Defending Freedom fired off a letter to UTA after learning the student group was hit with an approximately $28,000 in fees from the university police department.
Such a high fee might be expected if campus police were holding back a crazed mob protesting an appearance by Ben Shapiro or Matt Walsh, but the two events were mild and peaceful by comparison. The first event featured Jeff Younger, a former candidate for Texas state representative. His appearance did draw a crowd of left-wing protesters but there was no violence or arrests, according to a story by UTA’s student newspaper, The Shorthorn.
A second event to discuss human trafficking, which was held weeks later, appeared to drew a small crowd and no protesters.
ADF attorney Caleb Dalton says the student group was “shocked” to get the bill because those high fees were not disclosed. So the law firm happily pushed back on behalf of Turning Point, he says, because the university was punishing free speech.
"And universities cannot pick and choose which student groups should be having to pay fees like this and which not,” he argues, “and then really shutting them down over a heckler's veto."
In its letter, ADF told the police department the student group was being penalized unfairly because police were concerned about how protesters would react to a speaker they didn’t want on campus. That punishment amounts to viewpoint discrimination which is unconstitutional, the letter insisted.
From a more practical standpoint, ADF alleged Turning Point was not informed of the true cost to post officers even though it had communicated with the police department, and requested an estimate of the cost, weeks before Younger’s appearance.
An estimate of $873, for four officers working three hours, instead turned into a bill for $26,807. The bill for the second event was $1,844.