Shippensburg University: Speech Code Litigation

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Shippensburg University of Pennsylvania

In April 2003, FIRE Legal Network attorneys David A. French and William Adair Bonner filed a complaint against Shippensburg University, challenging the legality of its speech code, on behalf of two unnamed students. The U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Pennsylvania later issued a preliminary injunction ordering Shippensburg to cease enforcement of certain aspects of the speech code. The attorneys reached an out-of-court settlement with Shippensburg in 2004, in which the school agreed to replace unconstitutional provisions of its Code of Conduct and to rewrite its Racism and Cultural Diversity Policy. Four years later, Shippensburg reinstated several unconstitutional provisions from the speech codes, in violation of the agreement. After the Alliance Defense Fund filed suit on behalf of several Shippensburg students in May 2008, the university again settled out of court, eliminating its unconstitutional speech codes once again.