The Washington Free Beacon posted an article today about Kevin Shaw, a student at Los Angeles Pierce College. Mr. Shaw was handing out Spanish-language copies of the U.S. Constitution in November 2016. A college administrator told him he could not distribute the document outside the campus free speech zone, an area on campus that is approximately 616 square feet. Mr. Shaw has filed a lawsuit challenging the Los Angeles Pierce College and the entire LA Community College District’s policies that it claims restricts the free speech rights of students.
The article reports:
“Students like Kevin go to college to learn and grow in conversation with their peers, but a free speech quarantine like Pierce’s threatens to punish students who speak their minds in the wrong place,” said Marieke Tuthill Beck-Coon, the director of litigation for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, in a prepared statement.
“The law is clear: Public colleges like Pierce can’t force students into tiny slices of campus to exercise their First Amendment rights,” said Beck-Coon.
FIRE maintains the district’s unconstitutional policies are restricting speech on campus. Thirteen administrators are named as defendants in the lawsuit.
“This is a civil rights action to protect and vindicate Shaw and his fellow students’ rights to freedom of expression under the First and Fourteenth Amendments of the United States Constitution,” the lawsuit states. “The District and Pierce College’s policies and enforcement practices unlawfully restrict these rights.”
Free speech is an important part of our representative republic. What do we gain by limiting the free expression of ideas on our college campuses? What would happen to students if they were exposed to a variety of ideas at college and forced to evaluate them logically? Is that even possible on today’s college campuses?