United States District Court, W.D. Washington, Seattle
COLLEGE REPUBLICANS OF THE UNIVERSITY OF WASHINGTON; CHEVY SWANSON, an individual, Plaintiffs,
ANA MARI CAUCE, in her official capacity; GERALD J. BALDASTY, in his official capacity; RENE SINGLETON, individually and in her official capacity; CHRISTINA COOP, individually and in her official capacity; JOHN N. VINSON, individually and in his official capacity; CRAIG WILSON individually and in his official capacity; and DOES 1-25, Defendants.
ORDER GRANTING PLAINTIFFS' MOTION FOR TEMPORARY
J. Pechman United States District Judge.
MATTER comes before the Court on Plaintiffs' Motion for a
Temporary Restraining Order and Preliminary Injunction. (Dkt.
No. 2.) Having reviewed the Motion, the Response (Dkt. No.
12), and all attached declarations and exhibits, and having
considered the statements of the parties at oral argument,
the Court GRANTS the Motion.
University of Washington College Republicans (“College
Republicans”) and Chevy Swanson challenge the
constitutionality of the University of Washington's
(“UW”) “Safety and Security Protocols for
Events” policy (“Security Fee Policy”),
which requires student organizations to pay the anticipated
costs of security for on-campus events. (See Dkt.
No. 1.) The College Republicans have organized a
“Freedom Rally, ” scheduled to take place in Red
Square on the afternoon of Saturday, February 10, 2018, and
to feature Joey Gibson, the leader of the controversial,
conservative political group Patriot Prayer. (Id. at
7-9.) Based upon factors including the time and location of
the event, the estimated number of attendees, and the
responses at prior events featuring Mr. Gibson and Patriot
Prayer, the UW has determined that the Freedom Rally requires
enhanced security, including the presence of additional
officers from the UW Police Department. (Dkt. No. 12 at 6-7.)
Pursuant to its Security Fee Policy, the UW seeks from the
College Republicans an estimated $17, 000 as reimbursement
for its security costs. (Id.) The UW does not
require that the fee be paid in advance, but will calculate
and assess the total amount owed following the event.
(Id. at 5.)
contend that the $17, 000 fee is excessive and unreasonable,
and that the Security Fee Policy violates the First and
Fourteenth Amendments by regulating the student
organization's expression based on its conservative
viewpoints and the potential reaction of those who oppose Mr.
Gibson and Patriot Prayer. (Dkt. No. 2-1 at 8-9.) In
particular, Plaintiffs contend that the Security Fee Policy
impermissibly fails to provide any objective criteria,
factors, or standards to guide administrators in estimating
security costs. (Id. at 10.) Plaintiffs now move for
a TRO directing the UW to assess a reasonable security fee
based only on “objective criteria, ” not
including the anticipated response of supporters or
protesters. The UW has indicated to the Court that it will
allow the Freedom Rally to go forward, and will provide
security for the event. (Dkt. No. 12 at 7.) Therefore, the
only issue for the Court to decide at this stage is whether
the $17, 000 security fee is based upon “objective
criteria, ” not including the anticipated response of
supporters or protesters.
is an “extraordinary remedy never awarded as of
right.” Winter v. Natural Res. Def. Council,
Inc., 555 U.S. 7, 24 (2008). To obtain such relief,
Plaintiffs must show: (1) a strong likelihood of success on
the merits, (2) a likelihood that they will suffer
irreparable harm in the absence of preliminary relief, (3)
that the balance of equities is in their favor, and (4) that
the requested relief is in the public interest. Id.
at 20. Plaintiffs seek a mandatory order compelling the UW to
take specific actions (i.e., assess a reasonable
security fee). Accordingly, Plaintiffs must demonstrate that
without relief, “extreme or very serious damage will
result” and that their injury is not “capable of
compensation in damages.” Marlyn Nutraceuticals,
Inc. v. Mucos Pharma GmbH & Co., 571 F.3d 873, 879
(9th Cir. 2009) (citation omitted).
Likelihood of Success on the Merits
the UW has authorized the Freedom Rally and has agreed to
take measures to ensure the safety and security of those who
attend, the only question at this stage is whether the First
Amendment allows the UW to seek reimbursement from the
College Republicans based upon the criteria set forth in its
Security Fee Policy. (Dkt. No. 12 at 9-10.) The Court finds
that it does not.
upon the pleadings filed at this stage in the proceedings,
there is no dispute that Red Square is a limited public
forum. (Dkt. No. 2-1 at 10; Dkt. No. 12 at 2.) In a limited
public forum, restrictions on speech must be reasonable and
viewpoint neutral. Seattle Mideast Awareness
Campaign v. King County, 781 F.3d 489, 496 (9th Cir.
2015) (citation omitted). A reasonable restriction is one
that is “based on a standard that is definite and
objective.” Id. at 499. A viewpoint neutral
restriction is one that does not suppress speech
“merely because public officials oppose the
speaker's view.” Id. at 502.
contend that the Security Fee Policy is “vague and
contains no objective criteria, factors, or standards”
to guide administrators in assessing the appropriate amount
of fees. (Dkt. No. 2-1 at 10.) Due to its lack of objective
criteria, Plaintiffs contend that the Security Fee Policy
cannot be applied in a viewpoint neutral manner. The Security
Fee Policy provides in relevant part:
When the use of campus facilities involves events,
activities, and programs that are likely to significantly
affect campus safety, security, and operation, the University
will perform an analysis of all event factors. This could
result in additional conditions and requirements placed on
the host organization in order to maintain the safety and
security of all organizing parties, guests attending, and the
broader campus community. Safety and security concerns may
include, but are not limited to, history or examples of
violence, bodily harm, property damage, significant
disruption of campus operations, and those actions prohibited
by the campus code of conduct and state and federal law. . .
The University (i.e., venue coordinator and UWPD) may review
all event details and logistics to determine necessary safety
and security protocols. . . . Any determination by authorized
campus officials will be based on an assessment of credible
information other than the ...