A Michigan State University (MSU) professor allegedly forced her 600 students to pay a $99 membership fee to join a leftist organization she allegedly controlled called The Rebellion Community, which supported Planned Parenthood amongst other causes, as a condition of participation in her class, according to a lawsuit filed by Alliance Defending Freedom.
The court document says Amy Wisner, a professor of marketing at MSU’s College of Business, controlled The Rebellion Community and used the membership fees to support groups like Planned Parenthood and progressive causes dedicated to “dismantling oppressive systems,” according to a report by Fox News.
“The Rebellion community is a safe place to coordinate our efforts to burn everything to the fucking ground,” Wisner wrote on social media, according to the documents.
Now, attorneys for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) are representing students who say their money was used by their professor to engage in political speech that is “antithetical to [their] deeply held beliefs,” in violation of their First Amendment rights.
“The Constitution protects everyone, both from being compelled to speak themselves and from being compelled to subsidize the speech of people they don’t want to promote,” ADF attorney Logan Spena told Fox News.
“And this professor was simply using her position as a faculty at a university teaching a required course to require hundreds of students to do just that,” Spena added.
The suit also accuses Wisner of using the money — which came to around $60,000 — she collected students to buy an RV.
Michigan State students Nathan Barbieri and Nolan Radomski, who are suing the professor, said they were “aghast to learn that the fees they were compelled to pay as membership fees would be donated to Planned Parenthood,” because they are pro-life and find that abortion is “homicide of innocent children.”
“When the government goes from restricting the chosen speech or association of its citizens to compelling them to speak its message or associate with its preferred confederates, ‘additional damage is done’ because ‘[f]orcing free and independent individuals to endorse ideas they find objectionable is always demeaning,’” the lawsuit states.
“The same harms occur when the government compels speech through forced financial contributions, since ‘[c]ompelling a person to subsidize the speech of other private speakers raises similar First Amendment concerns,’” the complaint adds.
The suit also names Thomas Jeitschko, interim provost and head of academic affairs at MSU, because he “personally approved the policy on the donation of proceeds” received from the course materials in question, and is responsible for “keeping existing programs updated and in conformity with University educational policies.”
Judith Whipple, interim dean at the business school, is also named in the lawsuit.
The lawsuit demands that MSU change its policy to prohibit professors from mandating funding material that violates students’ First Amendment rights.
The suit is also seeking nominal, compensatory, and punitive damages from Wisner for “her purposeful violation of Plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights.”
You can follow Alana Mastrangelo on Facebook and Twitter at @ARmastrangelo, and on Instagram.