Saturday, June 16, 2012

U of Cincinnati Speech Code Bites the Dust

A federal district court has declared the University’s speech code to be unconstitutional. Drafting a valid speech code is hard and based on the cases, training college officials and students to apply it properly seems nearly impossible. Here are the opening paragraphs of the opinion:

This civil case presents the question, among others, as to whether the University ofCincinnati, a public university, may constitutionally subject speech on its campus, by both students and outsiders alike, to a prior notice and permit scheme and restrict all“demonstrations, picketing, and rallies” to a Free Speech Area which constitutes less than 0.1% of the grounds of the campus. For the reasons stated here, the Court determines thatsuch a scheme violates the First Amendment and cannot stand.

As a threshold matter, and as the Supreme Court of the United States has clearly stated: “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 thenobtain a permit to do so.” Watchtower Bible and Tract Soc’y of NY, Inc. v. Vill. Of Stratton, 536 U.S. 150, 165-66 (2002).

Here’s the full opinion.


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