The university violated the First Amendment rights of the Young Americans for Liberty group that sponsored a campus speech by gun-rights advocate Dick Heller in May, the Center for Defense of Liberty alleged Monday.
BSU spokesman Greg Hahn said it's not unusual for the school to charge for enhanced security to defray costs to students and taxpayers. Boise police decided to staff the event with extra officers to ensure safety after the school discovered Heller encouraged those attending his talk to openly carry weapons on campus, Hahn said.
The Center for Defense of Liberty, which says it aims to protect people's constitutional rights through the courts, wants the university to return the money and revise its policies, director Geoffrey Talmon said. He said a potential lawsuit is among the options the group was weighing.
In a letter sent to the university Monday, the organization also points out that the school required prior approval of event fliers and removed the event information from BSU's website. Talmon asked university officials respond before July 14.
"Not only did BSU unconstitutionally place a price tag on Mr. Heller's speech by assessing various 'security' charges based on the content of Mr. Heller's expression and the expected reaction from the attendees, but it also appears that BSU depressed attendance at the Heller event by removing information about the event from its website," Talmon wrote.
Hahn said university President Robert Kustra is out of town and has not yet received the letter.
BSU faces a separate free speech lawsuit from an anti-abortion organization that claims the university violated the First Amendment by restricting campus protests to a handful of "speech zones."