Canada’s Carleton University sued for blocking pro-life expression, arresting students

ADF-allied attorney represents pro-life students
Wednesday, February 23, 2011

OTTAWA, Ontario — An Alliance Defense Fund allied attorney representing members of a pro-life student group filed suit against Carleton University Friday for repeatedly blocking the group from expressing its views on campus while allowing other student groups to express themselves freely.

“Pro-life student groups shouldn’t be discriminated against because of their beliefs,” said ADF Senior Counsel David French. “The university’s own rules, not to mention Canada’s Charter of Rights and Freedoms, prevent the university from crushing the free speech of pro-life students while allowing students concerned about other issues to express themselves in nearly identical ways.”

On Oct. 4, 2010, Carleton University had the two students who are filing suit--both members of the student group Carleton Lifeline--handcuffed, arrested, charged, and fined with trespassing even though they are tuition-paying students. The students were attempting to display an exhibit that the university administration deemed disturbing and offensive due to the images it used. In November 2010, Carleton University’s administration provided the group with an ultimatum regarding the expression of their opinions and threatened further arrests.

The lawsuit, Lobo v. Carleton University, asks the Ontario Superior Court of Justice to declare that Carleton University and its administration have breached their own internal policies regarding freedom of expression, academic freedom, and discrimination. The suit also requests that the university be ordered to comply with these internal policies and points out that the university may have violated several sections of the Canadian Charter of Rights and Freedoms.

“Carleton University has allowed other exhibits using graphic images on campus.  Clearly, the university opposes Lifeline’s message and not its medium,” said Albertos Polizogopoulos, one of nearly 1,900 attorneys in the ADF alliance.  “This is censorship and viewpoint discrimination that violates Carleton University’s own internal policies and should not be present at a university that purports to protect the ‘frank discussion of controversial ideas.’”

Section 4 of the Carleton University Statement on Conduct and Human Rights states that the university protects “the frank discussion of controversial ideas, the examination of various or competing perspectives, the pursuit and publication of controversial research, and the study or teaching of material with controversial and even offensive content….”
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.