A recent article published in JURIST, authored by University of Cincinnati School of Law student and former FIRE legal intern Isaac Smith, discusses the controversy that arose at an Ohio University sit-in protest last spring and the litigation surrounding those events.
In the article, Isaac provides an overview of the current law governing public forums, and details the OU administration’s retaliatory response to the protest. Although protests had been held previously in the same indoor location, the administration reacted to the sit-in last February by arresting nearly 70 peaceful protestors and instituting an interim policy that completely closed the designated forum of the student center, prohibiting any student demonstrations from taking place in this location. In his analysis, Isaac describes the current circuit split regarding whether the government may close a designated public forum.
The article concludes with a plea to uphold students’ freedom of expression:
If OU exploits the ambiguity of the law and closes the forum entirely, it may win in court, but the First Amendment will certainly lose.
We encourage those interested in this important issue to check out the full article on JURIST.