OTTAWA, Ontario, June 15, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Carleton University, which had four of its students arrested in October over a pro-life display, has moved to strike down the students’ lawsuit against them, claiming that it’s “frivolous.”
Ruth Lobo and Nicholas McLeod, members of Carleton Lifeline, the university’s pro-life club, launched the lawsuit against the university in February. The club argues that the University has unjustly discriminated against them on the basis of their pro-life beliefs by imposing restrictions on their displays that have not been applied to other campus groups.
In April, Carleton University responded with a motion to have the suit struck on the grounds that it discloses no reasonable cause of action, is scandalous, frivolous, vexatious and an abuse of the court process.
The university will argue its case in court on June 16 at 10:00 a.m. at 161 Elgin Street in Ottawa, Ontario. The proceedings are open to the public. If the University is successful in their motion, Carleton Lifeline’s Statement of Claim will be struck, ending this lawsuit.
“This is an important case for freedom of expression on campus,” said Albertos Polizogopoulos, legal counsel for Lifeline. “Recently there has occurred many other cases where university students have had their voices silenced.”
Lobo and McLeod were arrested along with two other Carleton students on October 4th last year as they attempted to erect the Genocide Awareness Project, which uses large billboards of graphic images to compare abortion to past atrocities. Then, on October 27th, the students were threatened after holding an event called the “Choice Chain,” where the students stood along a campus sidewalk holding similar poster-sized images.
In November, Carleton University proposed an “agreement” that would have set up a designated “zone” on campus where the students could stand with their signs, dictating that they must cover their posters when traveling to and from this zone. But the students maintained that this area receives little traffic in the winter.
The university has allowed graphic images of the Holocaust to be displayed, as well as photos of brutalized baby seals – in each case without warning signs or restricted areas.
The club has asked the court that they be allowed to “openly promote their beliefs on campus” pursuant to university policies respecting freedom of expression, academic freedom, and discrimination. They’re also seeking $200,000 plus costs for punitive damages, wrongful arrest, damage to reputation, and breach of contract.
Carleton Lifeline was also decertified by the Carleton University Students’ Association (CUSA) in November, a decision they are challenging in court. While CUSA’s discrimination policy forbids actions seeking to “limit or remove a woman’s right to choose,” the club maintains that this policy directly contravenes CUSA’s own Constitution, which upholds students’ right to freedom of expression regardless of “political affiliation or belief.”
For more information about Carleton Lifeline and their statement of claim, visit their website here.