As the Minnesota Student Association goes through the fees application process and Coffman Union asks for a fees hike, the current University fees structure is under attack.
The assault came Feb. 3, 1998, in the U.S. District Court and was orchestrated by attorney Jordan Lorence, a University Law School alumnus. His clients, five University students, did not like paying money through student services fees to groups whose political ideologies they did not share.
They are calling for an exemption option from fees with which students might not agree.
The suit follows on the heels of decisions regarding mandatory fees in states like California and Wisconsin, where Lorence is fresh off a victory — Southworth vs. Grebe — a case very similar to the suit against the University. Several University of Wisconsin-Madison students sued the school because they didn’t want to fund certain groups.
A district court found that Madison students cannot be forced to fund campus groups that engage in political and ideological activities.
“It’s a very clear win and I think it will have a huge impact on the Minnesota case,” Lorence said at the time.
However, because the case is in a different jurisdiction than the Minnesota case, that decision is not binding here.
The Wisconsin attorneys have asked the U.S. Supreme Court to hear the case. Legal pundits have noted that traditionally the Supreme Court will wait to hear a case if a similar one is pending in lower courts, like the University fees case.
Right now, the University lawsuit is in the discovery process of the case, where documents are exchanged between the two sides.
Cross motions will be presented in June in which the University can ask the judge to dismiss the case.
— Scott M. Larson