Lopez v. Candaele | The Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression

Case Overview

On November 24, 2008, as part of an assignment for a course called Speech 101, Jonathan Lopez, a student at Los Angeles City College, delivered remarks referencing his religious views, including  his view of Biblical morality and his conception of the definition of marriage. Following his speech his professor called Lopez a “fascist bastard,” and when Lopez asked for a grade, the professor said, “Ask God what your grade is.” The professor then told Lopez that his speech had violated the college district’s policies. In February 2009, Lopez filed suit with assistance from the Alliance Defense Fund, alleging that his First Amendment rights had been violated and that the speech codes the college district maintained were unconstitutional. LACCD’s code prohibited, among other things, “generalized sexist statements” and “actions and behavior that convey insulting, intrusive or degrading attitudes/comments about women or men.” In September 2009, a federal district court ruled in Lopez’s favor, finding that the speech code stifled protected political speech. However, the Ninth Circuit reversed the decision a year later, holding that Lopez did not enjoy sufficient standing to challenge the speech code. Lopez petitioned for certiorari to the Supreme Court. FIRE submitted amicus curiae briefs, supporting Lopez’s challenge, to the Ninth Circuit, as well as in the certiorari petition. The Supreme Court ultimately denied cert in May 2011.