Joliet Junior College — Stand Up For Speech Lawsuit

Category: Cases, Free Speech
Schools: Joliet Junior College

On November 28, 2017, after seeing members of a conservative student group distributing anti-socialism materials on campus, Ivette Salazar decided to provide an alternate viewpoint by distributing flyers from the Party for Socialism and Liberation that read “Shut Down Capitalism.” Salazar was reported to the campus police, who confronted her, told her she shouldn’t hand out the flyers because of the “political climate of the country,” and then detained her. In the campus police station, she was interrogated and told she could not distribute flyers without permission from the college.

JJC’s policies restricted student expressive activity to one small, indoor free speech zone, required students to request use of the area five business days in advance, required students to disclose the purpose of their speech, allowed for only two people to use the area at a time, and required students to remain behind a table. If a student wanted to distribute literature while in the area, he or she also had to get the materials approved by administrators ahead of time.

On January 11, 2018, Salazar filed a lawsuit challenging the JJC policies that restrict students’ ability to engage in expressive activity and her detention by JJC’s police officers. Salazar and JJC agreed to settle the suit in April 2018, with the college agreeing to replace its unconstitutional speech codes, train staff and police on its new policies, and pay $30,000 in damages and attorneys fees. In an impressive move, JJC even adopted the Chicago Statement as guiding policy for all of its campuses.  

Salazar was represented by former president of the First Amendment Lawyers Association Wayne Giampietro of Poltrock & Giampietro, and FIRE attorneys Marieke Tuthill Beck-Coon and Brynne S. Madway.