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Editorial: ASUA political funding issue belongs in real court

Arizona Daily Wildcat
February 3, 1999
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The Trujillo brothers' brief challenging ASUA's allocations of student fees to political and ideological groups on campus belongs in a federal or state court, not the ASUA Supreme Court.

Questions of law involving the U.S. Constitution should be brought in a regular court, not the ASUA Supreme Court. The Trujillo brothers have not provided any authority giving the ASUA Supreme Court jurisdiction over U.S. Constitutional issues. They cite the ASUA Constitution, which gives the ASUA Supreme Court jurisdiction over ASUA constitutional issues, NOT U.S. constitutional issues. Furthermore, why would the Trujillos want to have the ASUA Supreme Court address this issue of student group funding, considering the judges are all appointees of Tara Taylor? It seems highly unlikely that they would be very sympathetic to a proposition to cut all funding to the ASUA's pet organizations.

The Trujillos would just be wasting their time, because when the ASUA Supreme Court rules against them, they will surely need to appeal to a regular court of law.

On the merits, the Trujillos appear to have a good case. Similar challenges to these allocations of funds have been upheld in other jurisdictions, most notably by the Seventh Circuit last year in Southworth v. Grebe. The court held that a mandatory student activity fee violated students' First Amendment rights, because a portion of the fee was distributed to private organizations engaged in political and ideological activities.

However, the Trujillos' brief needs a lot of work. They need to specify which groups are political or ideological. They need to provide examples of how they have behaved in political or ideological behavior. They need to explain how the fees are mandatory, such as by showing how it is impracticable for students to buy all of their books somewhere other than the university bookstore.

The cases they cite state that it is constitutional to fund political or ideological groups if the funding is genuinely "germane," that is, related to a broad interest in education - but the Trujillos never bother to explain how the funding of these groups is not "germane."

Are these groups overwhelmingly left-wing? Or marginal extremist groups in our society? Without hard evidence, this claim will never stand a chance in a real court.

It is interesting why the Trujillos are choosing to use the judicial branch to resolve this issue, rather than the Senate, which is responsible for funding these various groups. Considering Ty Trujillo is an ASUA Senator, and T.J. Trujillo is a former ASUA President, why didn't they try to work within the Senate to reduce the funding that goes to these organizations? Or why haven't they tried to eliminate the ASUA?

There are so many problems with the ASUA that many have called for it to be abolished. Eliminate the ASUA and you eliminate the funding problems.

Perhaps a workable solution might be to implement an optional donation system, similar to one initiated at the University of Washington a few years ago. There, when students registered for classes over the phone, there was an option that allowed them to contribute $3 to WashPIRG, a left-wing environmental group. Why haven't the Trujillos worked on implementing anything like this, considering their active involvement in ASUA?