By Bob Unruh
A court in California has delivered a major blow to the use of restrictive “free speech zones” by colleges, which often relegate unwanted viewpoints to the backwaters of their properties.
Judge Otis Wright II of the U.S. District Court in California has ruled that a complaint brought by a student against Pierce College in the Los Angeles Community College District can go to trial.
The campus-liberty group Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, noted that while there have been many such cases, this one was set apart because the Department of Justice intervened, siding with the student and against the college and its “free speech zone.”
FIRE’s Marieke Tukthill Beck-Coon explained the case in a video:
The Justice Department’s brief said: “Under the First Amendment, there is a heavy presumption against the validity of prior restraints. The First Amendment prohibits ‘regulations that confer unbridled discretion on a permitting or licensing official.’”
The DOJ argued college rules “must not foreclose the speakers’ ability to reach their intended audience.”
“Mr. Shaw is a student at Pierce College and is seeking to engage in speech in outdoor areas and sidewalks – not classrooms or other spaces that are more appropriately characterized as non-public fora,” the Justice Department brief states. “These outdoor areas and sidewalks almost certainly constitute designated public fora as to Mr. Shaw. … Mr. Shaw has sufficiently pleaded a claim that the college’s limitations on speech outside the Free Speech Zone violate the First Amendment.”
Shaw said at the time he was “humbled” to have the support of the Department of Justice.
“Their statement affirms what I’ve believed all along – that the First Amendment is essential to American progress, Click to see the original article