Preacher Asks U.S. Supreme Court to Hear Campus Speech Case

By on September 10, 2007

SCOTUSblog has an in-depth discussion of a petition for certiorari in a Seventh Circuit free speech case involving James Gilles, a preacher who met with administrative resistance when he tried to preach on a lawn area at Vincennes University, a public university in Indiana. Gilles is represented by the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), which is also representing the plaintiff in the Temple University case in which FIRE recently filed an amicus brief. To date, courts to consider the issue have generally held that off-campus individuals (such as Gilles) do have somewhat fewer free speech rights on campus than do members of the university community, but it sounds as if Vincennes University’s argument does not stop there. SCOTUSblog reports that “the university disputes Gilles’ characterization of the lawn as a public area.” FIRE, of course, has long argued that areas of a public university campus such as sidewalks, lawns, and parks should be considered public areas as far as free speech is concerned. We will follow this case and keep you updated on any developments.