‘Massive litigation Campaign’ Launched Against University Speech Codes

July 1, 2014

By Greg Piper at The College Fix

Public colleges that retain speech codes were given notice Tuesday by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education that they could be hit with costly First Amendment lawsuits.

The group announced it had filed four lawsuits Tuesday against schools in the Midwest and California – on top of two filed in the past several months – at a press conference in Washington, D.C. Two of them involve banned T-shirts.

FIRE is planning a “massive litigation campaign” under the Stand Up For Speech project, President Greg Lukianoff told the press conference.

“We’ve been hesitant to go the road of being primarily a litigation group,” but over the past couple years FIRE has realized “we’re not achieving enough” just by public education, Lukianoff said.

“We really want to get general counsels considering freedom of speech when they’re writing their [schools’] policies” affecting free expression, Lukianoff said.

Three in five campuses nationwide still have “unambiguously unconstitutional” codes because universities believe there’s no “downside” to them, Lukianoff said.

Schools believe codes can shield them from liability in harassment and other lawsuits, Lukianoff said: FIRE wants to change “this amoral calculus.”

FIRE said in a press release it would file suit against schools with unconstitutional codes in each federal appeals circuit, and after “each victory by ruling or settlement,” it would “target another school in the same circuit—sending a message that unless public colleges obey the law, they will be sued...

Schools: Ohio University Chicago State University Citrus College Iowa State University Cases: FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project Citrus College – Stand Up For Speech Lawsuit Chicago State University – Stand Up For Speech Lawsuit Iowa State University – Stand Up For Speech Lawsuit Ohio University – Stand Up For Speech Lawsuit