ASUO Constitution Court agrees with Ben Rudin’s constitutional recommendation

Posted by Ian Campbell on Friday, Jan. 18 at 9:48 am.

“Success!” ASUO Senator Ben Rudin said in an email while forwarding the ASUO Constitution Court’s opinion of his constitution clarification.

In his clarification, Rudin argues that ASUO Constitution Article 15.5.2, which allows for direct funding of programs through the initiative process, and Article 2.3, which states that ASUO programs are not permitted to violate the United States Constitution, would be in disaccord.

For the court to rule in Rudin’s favor the court members would need to provide evidence that Article 15.5.2 undermined the US Constitution.

“Direct funding of student programs with mandatory student fees through the initiative process has come under immense scrutiny from the Supreme Court for violating viewpoint neutrality and the First Amendment. This Court finds the Supreme Court’s ruling in Southworth to be sufficient grounds to conclude that Article 15.5.2 creates a reasonable probability that it will come into conflict with Article 2.3,” the court said in its opinion.

The opinion also read that the court would have to look at what the “appropriate outcome would be if two distinct but equally valid provisions of the ASUO Constitution come into conflict.”

To do this, the court chose to look at the ASUO’s mission and goals.

“The Court finds it difficult to believe that this explicit purpose of the ASUO is best served through a violation of its members’ federal constitutional rights,” the opinion read.

As a result, the court ruled that all measures that are to be placed on the ballot must first go through the body in order to clarify that the measures do not violate the ASUO Consitution.

“Based on these findings, the Court is inclined to invalidate any direct-funding initiative referred to the Court that violates the rights of its members under the United States Constitution,” the opinion read.

Rudin, who was pleased with the outcome related the ruling directly to campus.

“The textbook example would be Students for Choice or Students for Life. Since they are speech, subjecting their funding to referendum would violate the 1st Amendment. Their luck at the ballot would at least in part be determined by the popularity of their views. We cannot be forced to fund groups due to their popularity, and we cannot reject funding to unpopular groups,” Rudin said.

  • former student

    well played… well played

  • Padme

    God forbid the students be able to directly choose which groups they want to fund. That would be far to democratic.

    • Padme


    • Brudin

      Tyranny of the majority…

    • Brudin

      You and I absolutely have the ability and the right to fund any causes we wish. If we each have that right, then it is inherently implied that we have no right to use other people’s money to fund causes we wish, because that would infringe on their right described in the previous sentence. I don’t know why this is so complicated

      • Padme

        I know you’re going to say it’s different, but why is it okay for the ASUO to force me to fund a corrupt athletics program I don’t agree with, but not to pay for clean air?

        • Brudin

          Padme, I have no issue at all with your questions and most of the time I appreciate you helping ensure a proper discussion is had on these topics.

          1. The issue would never be clean air, but advocacy for clean air. Funding something that directly means cleaner air is not funding speech, thereby would not raise a constitutional issue. The issue is the speech component.

          2. Someone could say “I don’t use the Career Center or the Rec Center, so I should be allowed to opt-out of paying for it.” What each of us get when funding those things is the privilege to use them for free. One can argue that we shouldn’t fund some or all those things, but it’s a legitimate function. Government can make the policy decisions it wants, but it has no right to manipulate support or opposition to causes that are trying to get it to change or keep its policies. Government on any level: federal, state, local, university, you name it.

          To use a simple example, I disagreed with the war in Iraq but it was a legitimate function and expenditure. If government (again, on any level) were to make me pay to fund advocacy for or against the war, that is a wholly different matter. Does this make sense?