ANN ARBOR, MI – The Thomas More Law Center (TMLC) a national public interest law firm based in Ann Arbor, Michigan announced this morning that the Student Government Association (SGA) Judiciary Committee of Johns Hopkins University (JHU) issued a unanimous decision late yesterday evening overturning a SGA ruling that denied recognition to Voice for Life (VFL) as an official student club of the University.
TMLC, whose mission includes defending the constitutional rights of pro-life groups and individuals, representing VFL, authored an April 4th letter to top Johns Hopkins University officials and the SGA Judiciary Committee laying out the legal basis requiring recognition of VFL. However, Andrew Guernsey, VFL’s president and Chris Fernandez, VFL’s treasurer, presented VFL’s case to the SGA Judiciary Committee last night.
Responding to the decision, Andrew Guernsey commented: “We commend the SGA Judiciary for honoring Johns Hopkins’ institutional commitment to free speech by overturning Voice for Life’s rejection by the SGA Senate. Today is a victory not only for pro-life students here at Johns Hopkins, but for pro-life students around the country. We hope that our story of rising above discriminatory opposition can inspire pro-life students around the country to courageously take a stand for life and speak truth to power at their own college campuses.”
Continued Guernsey, “On behalf of JHU Voice for Life, I wish to thank all our supporters in the Hopkins-Baltimore community and around the country. I especially want to express my gratitude to Students for Life, FIRE, and the Thomas More Law Center for their support in helping us win approval from the SGA. It is important that pro-life students like us who face unjust discrimination on their college campuses know that they are not alone, and that there are powerful resources to help them win the battle for free speech in order to win the war of defending the dignity of every human life.”
Monica Rex, Vice President of JHU VFL, added: “Now that the SGA Judiciary Committee has approved us, we are ready to begin the real work of saving lives! While the road was difficult, we have learned just how much this fight for life means to us, and how important it is that students at Johns Hopkins have the opportunity to hear our pro-life message. Johns Hopkins has always stood for the very best in higher education, and we look forward to bringing our pro-life message to future leaders in the medical industry here at Hopkins.”
On March 12th, SGA denied VFL’s application for official recognition as a student club on the grounds that VFL’s intention to peacefully engage in sidewalk counseling off campus at a Baltimore abortion facility violates the University’s anti-Harassment and Code of Conduct policies, and that VFL’s website includes a link to the Center for Bio-Ethical Reform’s website, which features images of aborted preborn babies, considered by members of the SGA to be “offensive”.
The SGA March 12th denial was affirmed by the SGA Senate on March 24th. VFL filed an appeal with the student Judiciary Committee.
Richard Thompson, TMLC’s President and Chief Counsel, commented: “This is a great example of courageous students facing tremendous opposition, sticking to their deeply held pro-life principles and advancing those principles based on their right to free speech so deeply engrained in our culture, enshrined in our constitution, and fostered at Johns Hopkins University.”