California: Conservative College Students Score Win on Free Speech
A federal judge in California sided with a group of students who sued Clovis Community College after their conservative political flyers were banned by administrators.
With help from First Amendment advocacy organization Young Americans for Freedom, three Clovis students sued the school in August after administrators tore down flyers the group had posted on campus bulletin boards. The flyers contained anti-Communism and anti-abortion messaging. Earlier this year, the same group of students was prohibited from posting pro-life flyers during the Dobbs v. Jackson Supreme Court hearing.
According to Clovis policy, all political flyers must be “approved” by a senior staff member before they are displayed on campus. Any flyer containing “inappropriate or offensive language or themes” will be rejected. In this case, conservative content was deemed inappropriate.
“A public records request showed that the administrators kind of went into a frenzy trying to figure out how they could justify taking the flyers down,” says Jeff Zeman, an attorney with the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression who is representing the students.
“You can’t censor students just because you don’t like their message,” continues Zeman. “Today is a great one for the students of Clovis Community College, and it’s a win for our students that keep running into this problem with the administration over there. We’re hopeful that the preliminary injunction will lead to a new day for supreme free speech and that these administrators will understand what they’ve done. It isn’t doing their students any favors.”
In its defense, Clovis said that because the bulletin boards on which the flyers were posted were located inside campus buildings, the boards do not count as “public forums” and therefore the students do not have a constitutional right to post their opinions on the boards.
In her 32-page opinion, US District Judge Jennifer Thurston said that the ‘prohibition against viewpoint discrimination applies regardless of whether the bulletin boards are a public or nonpublic forum’ and criticized the school’s flyer policy as ‘imprecise.’
The injunction is a “minor restriction” for the college that “doesn’t outweigh the significant interest accorded to the entire student body because it alleviates the potential chill of free speech currently caused by the flyer policy,” wrote Thurston. In addition, one of the “central purposes” of the “university system is to foster creative inquiry, which develops through the expression of a diversity of viewpoints.”
The students’ lawsuit targets Clovis President Lori Bennett – who is said to have made comments linking Communism to the “blind arrogance of the Left” and instructing the students to hang their flyers in a “remote” area of the campus – and three other faculty members. Bennett also told the students that the flyers weren’t appropriate because they didn’t advertise a specific event (despite the absence of any such requirement).
Anthony DeMaria, an attorney who works for Clovis, confirmed last week that the college would be updating its flyer policy to address the students’ concerns. “Clovis Community College fully supports the rights of all students to express their full opinions,” said DeMaria. “We are disappointed in the court’s ruling because we believe there were some legal principles that supported the original policy.”
Author’s Note: This is yet another example of a college censoring speech in an unconstitutional way. Liberal academia considers conservative speech “inappropriate” and “offensive” and feels it should be banned.
Federal judge blocks California community college’s political flyers policy
A win for Clovis Community students suing school over conservative flyers
Judge strikes down speech code California college used to censor conservatives
Snowflakes beware. We’re mad as hell and ain’t gonna take it anymore
The Democrats and the Left want to change the 1st Amendment and redefine it as
Free Speech, unless it is offensive to someone, and that someone is the Left and
the offensive language is any that is not in line with the Left’s narrative and agenda.
Their is to be NO contrary opinion.
This was a free-speech issue that I am pretty sure both conservatives and liberals could agree on. Liberals may not enjoy the message, but the free speech should’ve been allowed. The line should be at heat speak, lies, and malicious disinformation. The colleges policies left great ambiguity which, in this case, were implemented in the most stupid fashion.
The judge was a Biden appointee approved by Congress. That means the liberal Senate too.