ACLU of Louisiana Urges Grambling State University to Drop Ban on Political E-mails

By on September 22, 2010

In an open letter [PDF] issued today, the American Civil Liberties Union of Louisiana (ACLU-LA) joined FIRE’s criticism of Grambling State University’s (GSU’s) ban on political expression via e-mail

The open letter, addressed to GSU President Dr. Frank J. Pogue, calls for GSU to drop the university’s recently announced prohibition on any student e-mail that "implies your support for [a] candidate" or contains "campaign solicitations." In the letter, Marjorie Esman, Executive Director of the ACLU-LA, writes:

Free speech is an essential cornerstone of our democracy, and what sets us apart from a dictatorship. When government–including a state university–can ban speech, the essential right to free expression is compromised. Political speech must receive the highest form of protection because only through a robust exchange of political ideas can our government truly be representative. For this reason, the Supreme Court has repeatedly ruled that discussion of public issues and debate on the qualifications of candidates are forms of political expression integral to the system of government established by the federal Constitution. Buckley v. Valeo, 424 U.S. 1, 96 S.Ct. 612, 46 L.Ed.2d 659 (U.S. 1976). In a forum that has been opened to the public for communication and debate–such as an email system made available to students–the government may not limit speech purely for political purposes. 

We at FIRE couldn’t agree more with Esman’s letter, and we heartily thank the ACLU-LA for weighing in on this important case. We’ll have more on this case soon.