Students in Michigan are suing their school after being arrested for handing out copies of the Constitution.
Last September, several members of the Young Americans for Liberty chapter at Kellogg Community College were standing in an open outdoor area on campus, handing out pocket sized copies of the U.S. Constitution and talking with students who passed by.
“The entire outdoor portion of the campus is a ‘no speech zone’ where no one can speak without the school’s permission. I learned the hard way that if you dare speak without official approval, there are consequences. What is ironic is that the very document that we were passing out guarantees our right to speak freely anywhere on campus,” said Michelle Gregoire.
In a federal lawsuit, Gregoire and the other students who were arrested allege that campus administrators told them they were violating the school’s Solicitation Policy, which states that students must get permission from the school before engaging in any expressive activity anywhere on campus.
“Because public colleges have the duty to protect and promote the First Amendment’s guarantee of free speech, we are asking the court to prevent KCC from enforcing its unconstitutional policy while our lawsuit proceeds,” said Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Travis Barham.
“Like all public colleges, KCC is supposed to be ‘the marketplace of ideas,’ but instead, it arrested these club supporters for exercising their freedom of speech,” said Barham.
In the exchange, captured on video, one of the administrators told the supporters that “engaging (students) in conversation on their way to educational places” is a violation of the Solicitation Policy because it is an “obstruction to their education” to ask them questions like, “Do you like freedom and liberty?,” adding that he was concerned that the students from “rural farm areas…might not feel like they have the choice to ignore the question,” according to ADF.
Gregoire and a few of the other YAL members told officials that they were going to continue exercising their First Amendment freedoms, he arrested them and charged them with trespass.
ADF attorney Jeshua Lauka intervened and the charges were dropped.
“Today’s college students will be tomorrow’s legislators, judges, commissioners, and voters,” said ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox.
“It makes no sense for a tax-funded college to forbid students from advocating for our constitutionally protected freedoms on their own campus. We hope the court will act swiftly to stop this school from violating its students’ rights,” Mattox continued.