Federal lawsuit filed against TCC’s free-speech zones

November 5, 2009

Clayton Smith and John Schwertz Jr., who are students at TCC Northeast Campus in Hurst, wanted to wear empty holsters on campus next week, but were told that they could protest only in a designated free-speech zone.

The lawsuit, filed by lawyers from the American Civil Liberties Union, wants the court to issue a temporary restraining order saying the free-speech zones, and portions of TCC's student handbook, are unconstitutional.

TCC denied a similar request in April by Smith and in 2008 by another student, Brent Poulos, on the South Campus. The student was told that he could protest in a designated free-speech zone but could not wear the holsters around campus.

ACLU attorney Lisa Graybill said TCC's free-speech zones are more restrictive than one that the courts struck down.

"What's remarkable is other colleges have tried to do this, and other colleges have ended up in litigation and lost," Graybill said. "It's clearly unconstitutional and an even more restrictive policy than the one Texas Tech used to try and restrict free speech to a gazebo...