First Amendment Defender FIRE Wins $200k In Settlements

January 23, 2015

By Morgan Chalfant at Red Alert Politics

The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has won over $200,000 in settlements for the individuals it has helped to coordinate free-speech lawsuits against universities across the country that threaten the First Amendment.

In particular, three of the lawsuits that FIRE has helped organize have forced schools to revise their free speech policies and pay thousands in settlements, as reports Inside Higher Ed.
For instance, a case against Citrus College in California has resulted in the school paying a $110,000 settlement in addition to revising its free speech policy and expanding its free speech zones.
The lawsuit was announced last July as part of FIRE’s “Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project.”

Moreover, two earlier lawsuits — one against Modesto Junior College in California and the other against the University of Hawaii-Hilo — have resulted in each university altering its free speech policy and zones in addition to paying a $50,000 settlement.

However, FIRE is far from finished protecting free speech on college campuses.

“More cases are in the works,” assured the organization’s associate director of litigation Catherine Sevcenko. “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.”

She insisted that one of FIRE’s primary goals in its litigation project is “to change the calculus of college administrators to realize that not respecting the First Amendment rights of students and faculty carries a high monetary and repetitional cost.”

“We have strong indications that our message is being heard,” Sevcenko added.

Schools: Citrus College Cases: Citrus College: Speech Code Litigation