Judge Rules U. of Cincinnati Anti-Protest Restrictions Unconstitutional
Thursday, June 21, 2012
A federal judge in Ohio has ruled that the University of Cincinnati’s anti-protest policy constitutes a violation of the First Amendment’s right to free speech and must be amended.
The university’s chapter of the Ron Paul-inspired Young Americans for Liberty challenged the policy after it was limited to one small area of campus to collect signatures for an anti-union “right-to-work” petition. Under the policy, the students first had to ask permission to carry out their signature drive in the designated “Free Speech” area. Had they attempted to collect signatures in any other part of campus, they could have been arrested.
Judge Timothy Black issued a preliminary injunction declaring that the policy restrained constitutional activities.
“It is offensive—not only to the values protected by the First Amendment, but to the very notion of a free society—that in the context of everyday public discourse a citizen must first inform the government of her desire to speak to her neighbors and then obtain a permit to do so,” Black wrote, quoting the 2009 Supreme Court decision in Pleasant Grove City, Utah v. Summum. “Such expansive permitting schemes place an objective burden on the exercise of free speech. Further, they essentially ban spontaneous speech.”
To Learn More:
Judge: U. of Cincinnati Speech Code Likely Unconstitutional (by Seth Zweifler, Student Press Law Center)
Judge Strikes Limits on College Student Activism (by Kevin Koeninger, Courthouse News Service)
University of Cincinnati Chapter of Young Americans for Liberty v. Gregory Williams (U.S. District Court, Southern Ohio) (pdf)
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