First Amendment Defender FIRE Gets Ohio University To Settle T-Shirt Lawsuit

February 2, 2015

By Morgan Chalfant at Red Alert Politics

As of Monday, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has won $242,000 in settlements for the individuals it has helped to coordinate free speech lawsuits against multiple universities nationwide.

Ohio University has agreed to revise its policies that hinder free speech on campus after FIRE helped student Isaac Smith sue the school for forbidding members of Students Defending Students (SDS) from wearing t-shirts that read, “We get you off for free.”

In addition to altering its free speech code, the university will also pay a settlement of $32,000.

“Because of Isaac Smith’s willingness to stand up for his constitutional rights, OU has revised its vague speech codes,” said FIRE President Greg Lukianoff. “For too long, universities have engaged in censorship with little or no fear of repercussions. FIRE is bringing that era to an end.”

Smith also commended FIRE for aiding him in the process, calling the organization and his attorneys “great allies” with whom to fight for the First Amendment.

The Ohio University settlement marks the fourth win in a row for FIRE as it pursues its “Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project,” which was launched last July. This brings the grand total of settlements the organization has helped generate to $242,000.

Unfortunately for universities with the habit of suppressing free speech, FIRE’s effort to defend students who stand up for the First Amendment is far from finished.

“More cases are in the works,” said the organization’s associate director of litigation Catherine Sevcenko last month. “We will continue to work with colleges and universities that reach out to us, as we have for the last 15 years. But colleges and universities need to understand that when we filed four lawsuits in one day last July, it was not a publicity stunt.”

Schools: Ohio University Cases: Ohio University – Stand Up For Speech Lawsuit