Just in time for the start of classes, a federal court in Cincinnati permanently enjoined the University of Cincinnati from enforcing its “free speech zone,” which restricted student speech to 0.1% of campus. My prior post about this ridiculous policy and the court’s preliminary injunction is here. Our friends at FIRE deserve another round of applause for pursuing this case and ensuring students at UC arrive back at school with greater First Amendment freedoms this fall.
According to lawyers for the students, the Ohio Attorney General used $200,000 of taxpayer dollars to hire a private law firm to defend UC’s blatantly unconstitutional policy. And that doesn’t even account for the attorneys’ fees that the students’ lawyers may collect from the state for prevailing in the lawsuit. The expenditure of huge sums of money like this is yet another example of state officials mishandling precious resources in tough economic times, all to strip students of rights to speak and assemble on campus. As the court said in June, the UC’s free speech zone “is an anathema to the nature of a university, which is ‘peculiarly the marketplace of ideas’ and runs contrary to the Supreme Court’s holding that ‘the vigilant protection of constitutional freedoms is nowhere more vital than in the community of American schools.’”
Alliance Defending Freedom, along with allies like FIRE, has been leading the charge in dismantling university “free speech zones” for many years. From California to Georgia and Texas to Pennsylvania, we have helped students successfully challenge university speech zones.
As you return to campus this fall, don’t hesitate to contact us if you have any questions about your university’s “free speech zone” and whether you can do anything to change it.