Suing for a right to speak

Tuesday, December 27, 2016
Bob Kellogg (

free-speech zone (stop sign shape)University students in Michigan are suing their school over a policy the permits free expression in an area that makes up less than three-hundredths of a percent of the campus.

When members of a Turning Point USA chapter tried to engage students in a discussion of the First Amendment outside the very restrictive Michigan State speech zones, they were threatened with arrest.

Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Tyson Langhofer is defending the members. He tells the small space confines approximately 25,000 students and more than 450 student groups.

"And if they want to engage in speech activities on their campus," he says, "they have to reserve - get prior permission - to use one of these two small speech zones, and the rest of the campus is off limits to expressive activity."

Michigan State and other schools resist changing their unconstitutional speech codes. So the attorney filed a lawsuit in federal court earlier this month.

"Even though these policies are consistently stricken by the courts when they are challenged," says Langhofer, "unfortunately the universities that have these policies are not voluntarily changing them."

The only way the policies are changing, he adds, is if students step up to challenge them.

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