Rosenberger v. Rector and Visitors of Univ. of Va., 515 U.S. 819 (1995)

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OCTOBER TERM, 1994

Syllabus

ROSENBERGER et al. v. RECTOR AND VISITORS OF UNIVERSITY OF VIRGINIA et al.

certiorari to the united states court of appeals for the fourth circuit

No. 94-329. Argued March 1, 1995—Decided June 29, 1995

Respondent University of Virginia, a state instrumentality, authorizes payments from its Student Activities Fund (SAF) to outside contractors for the printing costs of a variety of publications issued by student groups called "Contracted Independent Organizations" (CIO's). The SAF receives its money from mandatory student fees and is designed to support a broad range of extracurricular student activities related to the University's educational purpose. CIO's must include in their dealings with third parties and in all written materials a disclaimer stating that they are independent of the University and that the University is not responsible for them. The University withheld authorization for payments to a printer on behalf of petitioners' CIO, Wide Awake Productions (WAP), solely because its student newspaper, Wide Awake: A Christian Perspective at the University of Virginia, "primarily promotes or manifests a particular belie[f] in or about a deity or an ultimate reality," as prohibited by the University's SAF Guidelines. Petitioners filed this suit under 42 U. S. C. 1983, alleging, inter alia, that the refusal to authorize payment violated their First Amendment right to freedom of speech. After the District Court granted summary judgment for the University, the Fourth Circuit affirmed, holding that the University's invocation of viewpoint discrimination to deny third-party payment violated the Speech Clause, but concluding that the discrimination was justified by the necessity of complying with the Establishment Clause.

Held: 1. The Guideline invoked to deny SAF support, both in its terms and in its application to these petitioners, is a denial of their right of free speech. Pp. 828-837. (a) The Guideline violates the principles governing speech in limited public forums, which apply to the SAF under, e. g., Perry Ed. Assn. v. Perry Local Educators' Assn., 460 U. S. 37, 46-47. In determining whether a State is acting within its power to preserve the limits it has set for such a forum so that the exclusion of a class of speech there is legitimate, see, e. g., id., at 49, this Court has observed a distinction between, on the one hand, content discrimination—i. e., discrimination

819

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