A pro-life group in the US has filed a lawsuit against a college for restricting free speech on campus.
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), representing Students for Life, filed the lawsuit challenging the policies of Chemeketa Community College, in the State of Oregon, that restrict outdoor speech to a pair of small areas, that are less than 1.5% of the 100-acre campus.
The policy also requires students to obtain permission at least two weeks before speaking in those zones.
Alliance Defending Freedom said the policies have prevented students from engaging in spontaneous expression and promoting their events.
ADF said Students for Life obtained permission to host a debate about physician-assisted suicide but could not distribute flyers outdoors to promote the event.
“The only permission slip students need to speak on public college campuses is the First Amendment,” said ADF Legal Counsel Michael Ross.
“Students don’t give up their constitutionally protected freedoms when they step on to campus or hold a specific viewpoint,” he said.
“Our clients have the right to peacefully engage and persuade their peers. They also have the freedom to support pregnant and parenting students without censorship or harassment from their school.”
ADF said the college’s policy limits student ability to mobilise in a timely manner in response to breaking political issues.
“Today’s college students are our future legislators, judge, and voters. That’s why it’s so important that public universities model the First Amendment values they’re supposed to be teaching,” said Tyson Langhofer, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom.
“Pro-life students—like their peers—have the freedom to share messages of hope and healing without first asking college administrators for permission to speak.
“Across the country, we are seeing incredible opposition to the pro-life speech of our student leaders and volunteers as they speak for the defenseless and educate their fellow students on abortion,” said Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins.
“But the law and the Constitution are clear on the matter: Public schools cannot silence pro-life groups or force them to self-censor. If Chemeketa Community College wants to respect every member of its community, it will clarify that Students for Life can participate in the open exchange of ideas and ensure that the entire college community becomes a ‘free speech zone’ for pro-life students and their peers.”