Iowa State University – Stand Up For Speech

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Iowa State University

This case is a part of FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project. 

Iowa State University (ISU) students Paul Gerlich and Erin Furleigh are members of the university’s student chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML ISU). In 2012, NORML ISU received university approval for a group T-shirt that featured ISU mascot Cy the Cardinal’s head in place of the “O” in NORML. Following criticism from members of the public and state officials, the university not only rescinded approval for the T-shirt, but it adopted and enforced new regulations specifically designed to restrict NORML ISU’s ability to engage in political advocacy.

In both 2013 and 2014, the university rejected other T-shirt designs, including one that simply said “NORML ISU Supports Legalizing Marijuana,” under the hastily-drawn policy that broadly prohibits student groups from associating the ISU name with promoting “dangerous, illegal or unhealthy products, actions or behaviors” and “drugs and drug paraphernalia that are illegal or unhealthful.” This pretextual justification conflicts with how ISU treats other student groups and demonstrates that ISU’s new policy violates the First Amendment by confusing political advocacy with illegal conduct.

  • EDITORIAL: Saving Campus Speech

    July 11, 2014

    At The Washington Times Congress is considering a constitutional amendment to eliminate the free-speech protections of the First Amendment. Over at the Internal Revenue Service, high-level officials are caught harassing American citizens for their political beliefs, but obstructing the exercise of free speech is not limited to Washington. College campuses everywhere have dropped the pretense of academic freedom, adopting speech codes to restrict what can be said or thought, lest someone take offense at the expression of an unfamiliar idea. The frightened few cowering in the faculty lounge want to sanitize the public discourse. Earlier this month, the Foundation for Individual […]

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  • Iowa Students Stand Up Against Censorship of Marijuana Legalization

    July 9, 2014

    By Catherine Sevcenko at The Huffington Post Iowa State University invites its students to craft their own educational “adventure” as they obtain a college education. Erin Furleigh and Paul Gerlich are students at ISU whose adventure has included censorship and, now, a federal lawsuit. Erin and Paul are president and vice-president of the the Iowa State Chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML ISU). Their group advocates the legalization of marijuana, which even the White House Office of Drug Policy acknowledges “is a topic of significant public discourse in the United States.” Whether they are right or wrong as […]

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  • Education Colleges Learn Risks of Curbing Free Speech

    July 8, 2014

    By Bob Kellogg at OneNewsNow During its fifteenth anniversary of fighting for free speech rights on college campuses, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education filed four lawsuits in one day. F.I.R.E. is coordinating lawsuits against Ohio University, Chicago State University, Iowa State University and Citrus College in California. Litigation Coordinator Catherine Sevcenko explains the strategy behind this new effort at curbing unconstitutional speech policies. “We have sort of hit a core of universities that seem to think that they don’t have to worry about their unconstitutional policies,” she says. “And so we are trying to change that calculus.” She says the […]

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  • UNLV Must Champion Free Speech on Campus — or Face Potential Lawsuit

    July 7, 2014

    At Las Vegas Review-Journal Free speech, a cornerstone of our nation’s democracy, is supposed to thrive on college and university campuses. Students can best sharpen their critical thinking skills through open, robust debate on any and all ideas. All too often, however, the free exchange of ideas on campuses only goes as far as the sensibilities of the most easily offended. As a result, administrators at campuses across the country — including right here in Nevada — have increasingly embraced heavy-handed, politically correct policies that discourage and even prohibit protected speech. These policies include the implementation of speech codes, required permits […]

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  • Suing for Speech on Campus

    July 7, 2014

    By Spencer Case at National Review Online Free speech on campus is about to get its day in court. Last week the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) brought four lawsuits against universities with speech codes they believe are unconstitutionally restrictive. The lawsuits mark the launch of the Stand Up for Free Speech Litigation Project, which aims to end barriers to free speech on campus nationwide. FIRE has been an advocate for liberty on campus since it was founded 15 years ago. They have brought lawsuits in the past when efforts to persuade university administrations to abandon unconstitutional practices have failed. […]

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  • Lawsuits Launched to Protect Free Speech on College Campuses

    July 4, 2014

    By Deirdre Fulton at Mint Press News A Philadelphia-based nonprofit devoted to defending free speech and civil liberties on college campuses filed four lawsuits on Tuesday and announced the launch of its Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, “a national effort to eliminate unconstitutional speech codes through targeted First Amendment lawsuits.” The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), founded in 1999 by University of Pennsylvania professor Alan Charles Kors and Boston civil liberties lawyer Harvey Silverglate, brought lawsuits against Citrus College in California, Iowa State University, Chicago State University, and Ohio University. The suits allege that administrations violated student and faculty rights through unconstitutional […]

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  • FIRE Launches ‘Stand Up For Speech’ Litigation Project to End Speech Codes

    July 3, 2014

    By Robert Shibley at National Review Online For more than two decades, speech codes—policies on college campuses that limit what and where students may engage in free expression—have been a constant problem. First struck down (in the modern era of political correctness, anyway) 25 years ago in the case of Doe v. Michigan, speech codes have nevertheless hung on and miseducated a generation of students about freedom while robbing them of their basic rights. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE, where I work) has spent its 15 years of existence fighting these codes, systematically classifying them, and engaging in public advocacy aimed at convincing […]

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  • Morning Links: The FIRE Aims to Torch Campus Speech Codes

    July 2, 2014

    By Radley Balko at The Washington Post Idea: Let’s assign the least experienced police officers to the neighborhoods with the most crime. What could go wrong? Samuel Alito, the Supreme Court’s most authoritarian justice. Federal judge throws out “cannibal cop conviction,” correctly rules thatthought crimes are not crimes. From the American Civil Liberties Union, a criminal defense attorney’s guide to StingRay cellphone monitors. Colorado Gov. John Hickenlooper talks about marijuana legalization. Lawrence, Ind., is the latest town to get a Mine Resistant Ambush Protected (MRAP) armored vehicle from the Pentagon. The thing weighs more than 48,000 pounds, or more than a pound of MRAP for each resident of Lawrence. The […]

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  • Philly-Based Group Sues 4 Universities for Free Speech

    July 2, 2014

    By Joel Mathis at Philadelphia Magazine A Philly-based advocacy group, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, has sued four universities across the country, saying those institutions are squelching their students’ First Amendment rights. The New York Times reports: “We’re cultivating an intellectually unhealthy attitude that it is not O.K., or even dangerous, to hear opinions that might make you uncomfortable,” said Greg Lukianoff, the president of the group filing the suits. “Universities have been much too shy in saying that there’s a great educational benefit from hearing dissent. You have a whole generation of people who think that they should be protected from […]

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  • The Good Fight: FIRE Suing Colleges and Universities over Speech Codes

    July 2, 2014

    By Michael Barone at Washington Examiner Once upon a time, American colleges and universities prided themselves on being a zone of free expression, open to ideas, in a society that often censored speech and pressured citizens into conformism. How things have changed! Now college and university campuses are among the least free parts of our society, with speech codes and censorship enforced by armies of administrators. Fortunately there is an organization fighting this state of affairs: FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. FIRE has represented students against administrators bent on censorship and has catalogued the restrictions on speech […]

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  • Teachers Union Hit with Labor Strife — Obama’s Commencement Shift — Caring about School Counselors — Rethinking Remediation Reporting

    July 2, 2014

    By Caitlin Emma at Politico TEACHERS UNION HIT WITH LABOR STRIFE: The demonstrators marching outside the National Education Association’s annual convention in Denver on Tuesday held up signs demanding “No union busting!” and “Bargain a fair contract!” The target of their wrath: The NEA itself. The protesters were field organizers for the NEA — the men and women who hit the road as many as 200 days a year to rally educators to the union cause. They have their own union, the Association of Field Service Employees. And they’ve been working without a contract since their last three-year deal expired […]

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  • American Universities Are Restricting an Important Right — And Students Are Fighting Back

    July 2, 2014

    By Jenna Kagel at News.Mic A free speech crackdown in modern day America: We expect to hear stories on repressing freedom of speech in countries like Russia, not in the U.S. But right here in the land of the free, American universities, the pillars of protest movements and open dialogue, are suppressing free speech. In response, the first-ever coordinated legal battle against U.S. universities was filed on Tuesday in four states as part of the “Stand Up for Speech” litigation project. Three-fifths of public colleges violate the First Amendment by imposing free speech policies on their campuses. American universities are banning […]

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  • Group Launches Litigation Campaign to Challenge Campus Speech Codes

    July 2, 2014

    By Ronald K.L. Collins at Concurring Opinions July 1, 2014, National Press Club, Washington, D.C. Today, two powerhouses — one a free speech activist, the other a noted First Amendment lawyer — joined forces to challenge campus free speech codes that run afoul of the First Amendment. Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and Robert Corn-Revere, a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine (DWT), announced that the group and the law firm would work together in a litigation campaign to change the free speech culture on many campuses across the nation. “Unconstitutional campus speech codes have been a national scandal for decades. But […]

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  • Suing Over Speech

    July 2, 2014

    By Jake New at Inside Higher Ed WASHINGTON – The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education filed four lawsuits Tuesday, alleging that three state universities and one community college maintain unconstitutional speech codes and have restricted the free speech of students and faculty members. The lawsuits – filed against Chicago State University, Citrus College, Iowa State University and Ohio University – are the start of a larger campaign that FIRE is calling the Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project. For every lawsuit FIRE wins, whether through a ruling or a settlement, the organization will sue another college. FIRE had previously, and with […]

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  • Colleges Are Slowly Taking Away Your First Amendment Rights

    July 2, 2014

    By Robert Shibley at The Washington Post September 17 last year was a pretty bad day for the Constitution on our campuses. Robert Van Tuinen of Modesto Junior College in California was prevented from passing out copies of the Constitution outside of his college’s tiny “free speech zone.” Near Los Angeles, Citrus College student Vinny Sinapi-Riddle was threatened with removal from campus for the “offense” of collecting signatures for a petition against NSA domestic surveillance outside his college’s tiny free speech area. I mention September 17 because that was Constitution Day. These attempts to silence students are all in a day’s […]

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  • Group Files Suit to End Campus Speech Codes

    July 1, 2014

    By Christine Rousselle at Townhall FIRE, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, filed four lawsuits today against universities with restrictive speech codes on campus. The universities named in the suits are Ohio University, Chicago State University, Iowa State University, and Citrus College (Calif.). “Unconstitutional campus speech codes have been a national scandal for decades. But today, 25 years after the first of the modern generation of speech codes was defeated in court, 58% of public campuses still hold onto shockingly illiberal codes,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “For 15 years, FIRE has fought for free speech on campus using public awareness as […]

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  • The FIRE Launches National Litigation Effort against Campus Speech Codes

    July 1, 2014

    By  William A. Jacobson  at Legal Insurrection Almost daily we report here and at College Insurrection on the almost insane application of campus speech codes, frequently utilized disproportionately against non-politically correct (i.e. conservative) students and groups. Speech codes are closely related to other forms of campus oppression, like the stripping of due process rights for men accused under vague and overly-broad definitions of sexual assault and subjected to kangaroo courts. It all part of enforcing compliance with a dominant campus ideology (almost always progressive and radical feminist). Our friends at The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) have led the fight against speech codes for […]

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  • First Amendment Defender FIRE Coordinates Four Free Speech Lawsuits against Public Universities

    July 1, 2014

    By Morgan Chalfant at Red Alert Politics In a continued effort to stand up for free speech on college campuses, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) announced its participation in four lawsuits Tuesday to uphold the First Amendment rights of students and faculty in our nation. The organization announced these suits as part of its “Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project,” which was launched at a press conference Tuesday in Washington, D.C., at the National Press Club. FIRE President Greg Lukianoff described the project as a “massive litigation effort” that the organization is taking up in partnership with a team of lawyers at Davis Wright […]

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  • ‘Massive litigation Campaign’ Launched Against University Speech Codes

    July 1, 2014

    By Greg Piper at The College Fix Public colleges that retain speech codes were given notice Tuesday by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education that they could be hit with costly First Amendment lawsuits. The group announced it had filed four lawsuits Tuesday against schools in the Midwest and California – on top of two filed in the past several months – at a press conference in Washington, D.C. Two of them involve banned T-shirts. FIRE is planning a “massive litigation campaign” under the Stand Up For Speech project, President Greg Lukianoff told the press conference. “We’ve been hesitant to […]

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  • Free Speech Movement

    July 1, 2014

    By James Taranto at The Wall Street Journal FIRE is attempting to light one. The Philadelphia-based Foundation for Individual Rights in Education today filed four lawsuits challenging campus censorship at institutions across the country: • At Citrus Community College in Glendora, Calif., Vincenzo Sinapi-Riddle “was threatened with removal from campus by an administrator for asking a fellow student to sign a petition protesting NSA surveillance of American citizens.” He was accused of expressive activity without a permit and outside the designated “free speech zone,” which according to FIRE’s calculations “comprises just 1.37% of campus.” • At Iowa State University, two members of the campus chapter […]

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  • In Major Announcement, FIRE Says It Will Sue Every College With a Speech Code Until Speech Codes Die Forever

    July 1, 2014

    By Robby Soave at Reason Online The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education announced a major litigation effort Tuesday against universities that maintain clearly illegal speech codes. With help from the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine, FIRE is suing several universities that manifestly and unconstitutionally deprive their students of First Amendment rights. “Universities’ stubborn refusal to relinquish their speech codes must not be tolerated,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff during a press conference. For now, suits have been filed against Ohio University, Iowa State University, Chicago State University, and Citrus College in California. These universities have all trampled students’ free speech […]

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  • Iowa State Students Suing over Marijuana T-Shirts

    July 1, 2014

    By Grant Rodgers at  The Des Moines Register Two Iowa State University students are suing school officials after the university’s trademark licensing office forbade a pro-marijuana group from using the Cy logo on T-shirts. Juniors Paul Gerlich and Erin Furleigh have filed a federal lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Iowa asking a judge to rule that the school violated students’ First Amendment rights by banning the Cy logo on shirts made by the campus chapter of NORML, the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. Gerlich and Furleigh are the current president and […]

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  • Lawsuits Aim at Campus Free-Speech Limits

    July 1, 2014

    By Mary Beth Marklein and Hoai-Tran Bui at USA Today Lawsuits filed Tuesday by an education foundation accuse three state universities and a community college of restricting free speech of students and faculty, the first public volley of a nationwide campaign to challenge campus policies it says are unconstitutional. The cases involve T-shirt designs for student organizations at Iowa State and Ohio universities, a faculty blog at Chicago State University and a student at Citrus College in Glendora, Calif., who says he was told he would be kicked off campus unless he stayed within a designated area while seeking signatures for a […]

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  • Citrus College, Ohio State University Targeted by Free Speech Organization’s Lawsuit

    July 1, 2014

    Note: this article is a repost from the San Gabriel Valley Tribune. It erroneously states that the Ohio State University is subject to a free speech lawsuit. The school is in fact Ohio University. By Jason Henry at San Gabriel Valley Tribune GLENDORA >> A national organization focused on free speech rights for students named Glendora-based Citrus College and three Midwest universities in four lawsuits filed on behalf of students who claimed their constitutional rights were violated. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) launched the lawsuits in collaboration with students and faculty at Citrus College, Ohio State, Iowa State and […]

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  • Nonprofit Launches New Effort against Campus Speech Codes

    July 1, 2014

    By Kevin Daily at Washington Examiner The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education on Tuesday announced a significant litigation effort to fight campus speech codes in colleges and universities across the country. FIRE, a non-profit foundation that advocates for academic freedom, filed four separate lawsuits against Ohio University, Iowa State University, Chicago State University, and Citrus College in California. The filings launched FIRE’s new Stand Up for Free Speech Litigation Project, a national effort aimed at eliminating campus speech codes. FIRE president Greg Lukianoff characterized speech policies on most college campuses as “unambiguously unconstitutional” and vowed to persevere. “The lawsuits will continue until campuses […]

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  • 4 Free Speech Lawsuits in One Morning: Stepping Up the Fight Against Campus Speech Codes

    July 1, 2014

    By Greg Lukianoff at The Huffington Post For seven years I have written for The Huffington Post about the problem of campus speech codes — absurd, often unconstitutional restrictions on the free speech of college students and professors. Today, my organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has a big announcement about a major step in the decades-long war against campus speech codes. Here is my statement from our press conference at the National Press Club in Washington, D.C.: Twenty-five years ago we had reason to think that the “temporary insanity” of campus speech codes had come to an end. In 1989, the first […]

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  • ISU Sued for Prohibiting Logo on Pro-Marijuana Shirt

    July 1, 2014

    By Grant Rodgers at The Des Moines Register Two Iowa State University students are suing school officials after the university prohibited a pro-marijuana group from using the Cy logo on T-shirts that also featured cannabis leaves. At issue is whether ISU, a government entity, can choose which groups are allowed to use the logo based on political or social beliefs in an effort to protect its brand. It’s a lawsuit that will balance free speech rights against trademark law, said Christopher Proskey, a Des Moines patent and intellectual property attorney. “Somebody else is using your mark in a way that […]

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  • Pro-Marijuana Student Advocates Sue ISU Administrators

    July 1, 2014

    By Vanessa Miller at The Gazzette As part of a national free speech litigation project, two Iowa State students on Tuesday filed a lawsuit accusing university administrators of violating the rights of a student group pushing for the legalization of marijuana. The lawsuit — filed by the president and vice president of ISU’s chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws, or NORML — is one of four new lawsuits included in the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s nationwide effort to “eliminate unconstitutional speech codes through targeted First Amendment lawsuits.” The “Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project” […]

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  • Trouble over T-Shirts Just Landed 2 State Universities in Court

    July 1, 2014

    By Tyler Kingkade at The Huffington Post Two Midwest state universities are being hauled into court over what campus groups can and can’t say on their T-shirts. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education said Tuesday that it has filed lawsuits against Iowa State University, for denying marijuana reform advocates the use of the school mascot on their T-shirts, and against Ohio University, for directing a student government-related group not to wear T-shirts with a double entendre. Students from the two schools joined FIRE, a Philadelphia-based nonprofit, at a press conference in Washington, D.C., announcing the suits. FIRE also said it was suing […]

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  • Education Group Announces All-out War on Campus Speech Codes

    July 1, 2014

    By Blake Neff at The Daily Caller The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), a group advocating free speech on college campuses, announced Tuesday that it is launching a major legal offensive against universities it says are enforcing illegal speech codes. “Universities’ stubborn refusal to relinquish their speech codes must not be tolerated,” FIRE president Greg Lukianoff said at press conference held by the organization. Currently, the group will back four lawsuits against four different schools for alleged violations of speech rights. The lawsuits involve a diverse array of campus incidents. For lawsuits against Iowa State University and Ohio University, […]

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  • Student Sues Citrus College District over Free Speech Restrictions

    July 1, 2014

    By Teresa Watanabe at Los Angeles Times Vincenzo Sinapi-Riddle is a passionate libertarian who was thrilled to attend Citrus College in Glendora for what he imagined would be a quintessential college experience of unbridled debate. But after he arrived last year, he learned that the college required all petitioning, pamphleting and other expressive activities be confined to a small “free speech area” on the campus quad. And when he launched his first petition effort last fall, he said — against spying by the National Security Agency — an administrator told him he was outside the designated zone and warned that he […]

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  • Students Challenge Free-Speech Rules on College Campuses

    July 1, 2014

    By Teresa Watanabe at Los Angeles Times College students in California and three other states filed lawsuits against their campuses Tuesday in what is thought to be the first-ever coordinated legal attack on free speech restrictions in higher education. Vincenzo Sinapi-Riddle, a 20-year-old studying computer science, alleged that Citrus College in Glendora had violated his 1st Amendment rights by restricting his petitioning activities to a small “free-speech zone” in the campus quad. According to Sinapi-Riddle’s complaint, a campus official stopped him last fall from talking to another student about his campaign against spying by the National Security Agency, saying he had […]

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  • Advocacy Group Sues 4 Universities in Challenge to Policies It Says Curb Free Speech

    July 1, 2014

    By Jennifer Medina at The New York Times LOS ANGELES — Arguing that free speech is being stifled at college campuses across the country, a Philadelphia-based advocacy group on Tuesday filed lawsuits against four universities, seeking to force the schools to revise policies that the group says restrict some forms of speech. The group, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, singled out four schools that it says squelched free speech in noteworthy ways — by banning certain T-shirts on campus, for example, or by trying to shut down a faculty blog that criticized the administration — and said it planned to […]

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  • FIRE’s Sevcenko on Iowa State Lawsuit for ‘Huffington Post’

    July 10, 2014

    FIRE Litigation Coordinator Catherine Sevcenko takes to The Huffington Post today to explain why Iowa State University students Paul Gerlich and Erin Furleigh are standing up for speech at their institution by filing a First Amendment lawsuit.

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  • This Fourth of July, Students and Faculty Are ‘Retracing the Steps to Free Speech’

    July 4, 2014

    We learn in grade school that freedom of speech is the hallmark of a free nation and the cornerstone of democracy. Yet the urge to censor seems almost irresistible, no matter who wields authority. As FIRE followers know all too well, public colleges and universities routinely restrict and punish constitutionally protected expression. In academia, where First Amendment freedoms are most precious, they are at serious risk. Nearly 60 percent of the 427 institutions that FIRE has surveyed maintain policies that clearly and substantially infringe upon freedom of speech.

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  • FIRE’s Shibley in ‘Washington Post’: Lawsuits ‘About to Become a Lot More Common’

    July 2, 2014

    Following yesterday’s launch of FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley takes to The Washington Post today to explain why litigation is necessary:

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  • Help Students and Professors Stand Up For Speech! Support FIRE Today

    July 2, 2014

    This week was an exciting one for FIRE, as we took a huge step forward in the fight for free expression on campus with the launch of our Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project. While we’re proud to usher in this new era in FIRE’s history, we’re even prouder to do so alongside the brave students and faculty members who have taken this opportunity to stand up for speech. We hope you will consider supporting these plaintiffs as they fight back against campus censorship.

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  • Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project Makes Media Splash

    July 2, 2014

    Yesterday, FIRE launched our new Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, a national effort to eliminate unconstitutional speech codes through targeted First Amendment lawsuits. Within minutes of the announcement, major media outlets were spreading the word, and over the past 24 hours, the nation’s top newspapers have reported on this big step in the fight for free speech on campus. Here is some of yesterday’s and today’s news coverage of Stand Up For Speech and the four lawsuits FIRE brought yesterday with the help of law firm Davis Wright Tremaine:

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  • FIRE Brings Four Free Speech Lawsuits in One Day

    July 1, 2014

    WASHINGTON, July 1, 2014—This morning, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) coordinated the filing of lawsuits against Ohio University, Chicago State University, Iowa State University, and Citrus College (Calif.). The filings launch FIRE’s new Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, a national effort to eliminate unconstitutional speech codes through targeted First Amendment lawsuits. The project and lawsuits were announced today at a press conference at the National Press Club. FIRE has retained preeminent First Amendment attorney Robert Corn-Revere of the national law firm Davis Wright Tremaine as counsel for students and faculty members participating in the Stand Up […]

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