Lawsuit Challenges College’s Free Speech Policy
Student Barred from Handing Out Fliers Takes Aim at Free Speech Zone
PHOENIX (AP) — A group that won a U.S. Supreme Court ruling against restrictions on a Gilbert church’s signs is now disputing the free speech policy of a Phoenix college.
The Arizona Capitol Times reports (http://bit.ly/1Pjp63n) that Alliance Defending Freedom is suing Paradise Valley Community College on behalf of a student.
In the federal lawsuit, Brittany Mirelez says school officials stopped her from issuing fliers for her libertarian club in a “free speech zone” in October. Mirelez wants the speech zone policy struck down by the court.
The school says Mirelez did not make the required advance reservation to use the zone.
Attorneys for Alliance Defending Freedom say the school has no criteria for deciding on requests, a violation of the right to due process in the 14th Amendment.
“The bottom line is colleges are a place where ideas are supposed to be freely shared, not gagged,” said alliance attorney Tyson Langhofer. “Our belief is — and we believe the First Amendment’s stance is — speech isn’t free when students have to ask permission to speak, and then when they’re limited to where they can speak.”
College President Paul Dale declined to comment on the lawsuit, but released a statement saying freedom of expression is an important part of an educationally productive environment.
“To accomplish that purpose, we seek to coordinate expressive activities and events in the open areas of our campus in a way that optimizes opportunities for students and employees to teach, learn, and express themselves free from disruption and interference,” he wrote.
The Supreme Court struck down a Gilbert ordinance last June that limited church signs more than political ones.