Battle Won Against College Free Speech Zones

Students in the Los Angeles Community College District will have Kevin Shaw to thank when postage-stamp sized restricted free speech zones are eliminated from their nine college campuses this year. Kevin recently won his constitutionally based case with the help of FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education.  

 

In 2016 Kevin sued Pierce College in Woodland Hills for preventing him from passing out copies of the United States constitution outside its designated free speech zone. Not only was he limited at the time as to where he could pass out literature, it was also necessary for him to apply for a permit in advance. US District Judge Otis D. Wright II refused to dismiss the case and instead treated it as a First Amendment issue saying that "the open spaces of public colleges are traditional open forums for student speech regardless of (the college's) regulations." 

The court settlement revokes a district-wide policy that declared all campus property to be "non-public forums" with speech restrictions. It is now up to the college Board of Trustees to enact the change despite their concerns about it "interfering with their mission or the rights of others." On the contrary, free speech is "a precious commodity to be celebrated rather than feared or restricted," said Arthur Willner, attorney with FIRE.  

On a side note, Kevin's case went national when last November Jeff Sessions, then Attorney General, gave his support, citing it in a talk he gave at Georgetown University.

Kevin Shaw is active with both the Libertarian Party and Young Americans for Freedom. He deserves our thanks for seeing this two year lawsuit to the end and for standing up for our principles.      

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