Blinn College – Stand Up For Speech Lawsuit

Category: Free Speech
Schools: Blinn College

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

A student at Blinn College near Houston filed a First Amendment lawsuit against her college on May 20, 2015, based on an incident in February when an administrator told her she would need “special permission” to display a gun rights sign and collect signatures for her student group on campus. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education assisted the student, Nicole Sanders, in filing the federal lawsuit challenging numerous unconstitutional restrictions on free speech at Blinn College. The lawsuit challenged Blinn’s policy of restricting speech to a tiny “Free Speech Area,” as well as the process that led the college to take over a month to approve a palm card she wanted to hand out to students explaining their Fourth and Fifth Amendment rights. The suit also alleged that one of Sanders’ professors threatened her with retaliation, telling her he would “protect me and mine” if she sought to take action against the school.

On May 4, 2016, the Blinn College Board of Trustees agreed to settle the case and revise the restrictive policies targeted in the lawsuit to comply with the First Amendment. Blinn also agreed to pay Sanders $50,000 for damages and attorney’s fees.

  • Victorious Lawsuit Lifts Free Speech Restrictions on Campus to Actually Match First Amendment

    May 19, 2016

    By Mark Meckler at Patheos  A lawsuit against an American college campus has been settled, ensuring students are allowed full access to their First Amendment rights … Read more here.

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  • Blinn College Loses Free Speech Battle Over Evicting Pro-Gun Student

    May 5, 2016

    By Anthony Gockowski at Campus Reform The Blinn College Board of Trustees agreed to settle a lawsuit Wednesday filed by a student who was told she would need “special permission” to display a gun rights sign in the school’s designated free speech zone… Read more here.

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  • College Free Speech Zones Violate First Amendment

    July 14, 2015

    By Catherine Sevcenko for The Express News “Don’t mess with Texas” is good advice, but student activist Nicole Sanders has a related warning for Blinn College in Brenham: Don’t mess with the Bill of Rights. Administrators at Blinn College have repeatedly insisted that Nicole get their permission before expressing her views on campus about gun and privacy rights. This didn’t sit well with Nicole, so with help from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, or FIRE, she sued the college on May 20 in federal court for violating her First Amendment rights. Nicole did not come to the decision […]

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  • Student Sues School for Banning Sign Supporting Second Amendment

    May 30, 2015

    By Rick Moran at American Thinker A student at Blinn College in Texas is suing the school for banning the display of a sign in a public space at the school supporting the Second Amendment. Nicole Sanders, along with another student, were outside the student center holding signs when they were approached by a school official who said that there had been a complaint that the sign was “offensive.” and that they would need “special permission” in the future to display them. The other sign was simply marked “LOL” with the “O” being the Obama logo. Fox News: Sanders claims a […]

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  • Texas Student Sues After College Bans Gun Rights Sign

    May 28, 2015

    By Maxim Lott at Fox News A Texas college student filed suit against her school this week, saying her constitutional rights were violated when she was shooed off the quad for displaying a pro-Second Amendment sign. Nicole Sanders, 24, who attends Blinn College, a two-year public college in Brenham, Texas, said she and a classmate at the 18,000-student school were holding signs near the student center in February when they were told to move. Sanders’ sign read, “Defend Gun Rights on Campus,” and the other said “LOL,” with President Obama’s logo as the “O.” The pair was trying to attract members […]

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  • Student Fights Back After School Official And 3 Armed Campus Police Stop Her From Displaying These Signs

    May 28, 2015

    By James Beattie at Western Journalism A Texas college student filed a First Amendment lawsuit against her school last week after she was told she would need “special permission” to collect signatures for a new student organization and display her conservative-leaning signs. Fox News reported that the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is aiding student Nicole Sanders in a lawsuit against Blinn College, a community college located about 75 miles west of Houston in Brenham, Texas. Sanders’ lawsuit challenges Blinn’s policy of restricting expression to a “Free Speech Area” (seen below) unless one obtains a permit, which entails going through […]

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  • Texas College Student Sues School Over Pro-Gun Sign (VIDEO)

    May 26, 2015

    By Jared Morgan at Guns.com A Houston college student sued her school last week over claims the institution infringed on her constitutional right to free speech. The incident occurred Feb. 2, when Nicole Sanders and other students were collecting signatures for the formation of a new student club chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, a libertarian and conservative youth organization. According to the complaint, students held politically charged signs, one ridiculing the Obama administration and the other promoting gun rights on campus, but were doing so outside the university’s free speech area. The students were told by a Blinn College […]

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  • Student Sues Texas College After Being Told Gun Rights Sign Needs Special Permission

    May 21, 2015

    By FIRE at Ammoland Houston, TX -(Ammoland.com)- Blinn College student Nicole Sanders filed a First Amendment lawsuit against the public institution near Houston today after being told by an administrator last February that she would need “special permission” to display a gun rights sign and collect signatures for her student group on campus. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) assisted Sanders in filing the federal lawsuit, the tenth lawsuit filed as part of FIRE’s national Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project. The lawsuit challenges Blinn’s policy of restricting speech to a tiny “Free Speech Area,” as well as the […]

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  • Gun-Rights Advocacy Is Too Dangerous For Texas College To Allow, Lawsuit Claims

    May 21, 2015

    By Greg Piper at The College Fix A vindictive ceramics professor The prospect of students publicly advocating for Second Amendment rights at Blinn College so worried one administrator that she told student activists not to expect to get permission to do it, according to a new lawsuit. That fear of libertarian advocacy also allegedly drove a professor to make vague threats against a student activist. The public college in Texas is the latest target of the Stand Up For Speech project by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), which has taken particular aim at college speech codes and free speech zones that limit […]

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  • Student Sues College After Gun Rights Sign Needed ‘Special Permission’

    May 21, 2015

    By Mary Lou Byrd at The Washington Free Beacon A student at a Texas college filed a lawsuit Wednesday claiming administrators shut down her free speech event that included a gun rights sign, telling her she needed “special permission” and that it was unclear if she could advocate for gun rights on campus. Nicole Sanders filed the federal lawsuitagainst Blinn College in Brenham, Texas, after her event was shut down earlier this year. The lawsuit challenges the school’s restrictions on free expression, including the policy that requires college officials approve all material distributed on campus. Sanders and another student were […]

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  • Student Files First Amendment Lawsuit Against Blinn

    May 21, 2015

    By Patrick Crank at Brenham Banner- Press A Blinn College student in conjunction with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) filed a First Amendment lawsuit against the college Wednesday. Nicole Sanders is suing Blinn after being told by a college administrator in February that she needed “special permission” to display a sign advocating gun rights as well as collect signatures to join a student group known as the Young Americans for Liberty on campus. The lawsuit is aimed at challenging Blinn’s restriction of free speech to a designated area as well as an alleged lengthy approval process by […]

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  • Suit Challenges “Free-Speech Zone” at Brenham Community College

    May 20, 2015

    By Benjamin Wermund at Houston Chronicle When Nicole Sanders brought a couple of signs to campus to recruit for the Young Americans for Liberty chapter she was trying to start at Blinn College, she attracted plenty of attention – but not the sort she wanted. Sanders and a couple of friends were demonstrating for “campus carry” gun legislation at the Brenham community college; they also held a sign showing opposition to President Barack Obama. Sanders said a school administrator and three uniformed, armed campus police officers told the students that she and her friends would need “special permission” to display […]

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  • Student Sues Blinn College, Says ‘Free Speech Zone’ Violates First Amendment

    May 20, 2015

    By Benjamin Wermund at Houston Chronicle When Blinn College student Nicole Sanders brought a couple of signs to campus to recruit for the Young Americans for Liberty chapter she was trying to start at the Brenham community college, she attracted plenty of attention. Just not the attention she was hoping for. Sanders, who, with a couple of friends, was demonstrating on campus with a sign advocating for campus carry and one anti-Obama sign, says she was approached by a school administrator and three uniformed and armed campus police officers. She says she was told that, even though Blinn is a […]

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  • Student Sues Texas College After Being Told Gun Rights Sign Needs ‘Special Permission’

    May 20, 2015

    By Jo-Carolyn Goode at Houston Style Magazine HOUSTON, March 20, 2015—Blinn College student Nicole Sanders filed a First Amendment lawsuit against the public institution near Houston today after being told by an administrator last February that she would need “special permission” to display a gun rights sign and collect signatures for her student group on campus. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) assisted Sanders in filing the federal lawsuit, the tenth lawsuit filed as part of FIRE’s national Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project. The lawsuit challenges Blinn’s policy of restricting speech to a tiny “Free Speech Area,” […]

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  • ‘Free Speech Zones,’ Then and Now

    December 27, 2016

    In September 2013, FIRE released an infographic reporting for the first time on the number of schools in our Spotlight Database that have “free speech zones”—policies limiting student demonstrations and other expressive activities to small and/or out-of-the-way areas on campus. At that time, roughly one in six of the colleges and universities in Spotlight maintained a free speech zone policy. This year, we decided it was time to take a fresh look at that figure, since a lot has changed over the last few years. And as we announced in our just-released 2017 report on campus speech codes, the number […]

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  • The Unstoppable Nicole Sanders: FIRE’s Successful SUFS Plaintiff Reflects on Ayn Rand, Campus Outreach, ‘Liberty-Inspired’ Clothing

    November 9, 2016

    Nicole Sanders is planning a big move to Washington, D.C. Having gained media attention last year after successfully suing her college for violating her First Amendment rights, Sanders was recently hand-picked as the incoming first-ever Director of Student Programs for The Atlas Society. “They love that I sued my school for free speech,” she said, adding that the nonprofit chose her for her unique background in both student activism and outreach. But it is not lost on Sanders that her new leadership role with Atlas, a group dedicated to fostering “the remarkable potential and power of the individual,” comes only […]

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  • Victory: Texas College Settles Free Speech Lawsuit After Telling Student That Gun Rights Sign Needs ‘Special Permission’

    May 4, 2016

    HOUSTON, May 4, 2016—Yesterday, the Blinn College Board of Trustees agreed to settle a First Amendment lawsuit filed last year by a student who was told that she would need to jump through numerous bureaucratic hoops to express herself on campus and would need “special permission” to display a gun rights sign. The settlement is the ninth consecutive victory for the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education’s (FIRE’s) unprecedented and undefeated Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project. As part of the settlement agreement, Blinn College agreed to revise the restrictive policies targeted in the lawsuit to comply with the First […]

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  • FIRE’s Catherine Sevcenko Explains Blinn Lawsuit in ‘San Antonio Express-News’

    June 16, 2015

    In an op-ed in Sunday’s San Antonio Express-News, FIRE Associate Director of Litigation Catherine Sevcenko describes why the Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project’s latest plaintiff, Nicole Sanders, decided to sue her school, Blinn College in Texas. Catherine also updates some of the other cases in the Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, which will mark its first anniversary on July 1. As Torch readers may recall, Sanders filed a First Amendment lawsuit against Blinn after college administrators, accompanied by three armed police officers, told Sanders she needed “special permission” to display signs and recruit students for the Young Americans […]

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  • Student Sues Texas College After Being Told Gun Rights Sign Needs ‘Special Permission’

    May 20, 2015

    HOUSTON, May 20, 2015—Blinn College student Nicole Sanders filed a First Amendment lawsuit against the public institution near Houston today after being told by an administrator last February that she would need “special permission” to display a gun rights sign and collect signatures for her student group on campus. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) assisted Sanders in filing the federal lawsuit, the tenth lawsuit filed as part of FIRE’s national Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project. The lawsuit challenges Blinn’s policy of restricting speech to a tiny “Free Speech Area,” as well as the process that led the […]

    » Read More