By Rick Moran at American Thinker
A student at Blinn College in Texas is suing the school for banning the display of a sign in a public space at the school supporting the Second Amendment.
Nicole Sanders, along with another student, were outside the student center holding signs when they were approached by a school official who said that there had been a complaint that the sign was “offensive.” and that they would need “special permission” in the future to display them. The other sign was simply marked “LOL” with the “O” being the Obama logo.
Sanders claims a college official accompanied by three armed campus police officers approached and said someone had complained that their display was offensive and that they wouldn’t be allowed to do it again unless they got “special permission.” According to Sanders, the official added that it was unlikely such permission would be granted to advocate for gun rights.
“When you have to get a permit before you can speak, it shuts down ideas – everything gets censored through the administrators,” Sanders, who is studying political science, told FoxNews.com. “It’s unconstitutional for a public university to limit speech to one area of campus. I think that college should be a marketplace of ideas.”
There was an option, Sanders says she was told. She and her classmate, Chris Bradford, who is not part of the suit, could display their signs at a “free speech area” off to the side of the campus center, roughly the size of two parking spaces, where few would see her.
You only get so many people there,” Sanders told FoxNews.com.
Her lawsuit, which is being filed in federal court in Austin with the help of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), also alleges that her ceramics professor, David Peck, tried to intimidate her into not suing the school. The suit alleges that he warned her that he would “protect me and mine” from accusations against Blinn College and that Sanders “better think” before taking further action.
As is usually the case in these matters of free expression on campus, school officials who were caught red handed in egregiously violating the Constitutional rights of a student began to backtrack:
“We certainly will take this opportunity to evaluate our policies as they are written and as they are applied by faculty and staff,” Tilley said. “We will evaluate whether any misunderstandings may have occurred. Because of our commitment to our students and to the law, we are confident that we will be able to resolve any concerns that have been raised.”
Tilley said the school has a policy not to discriminate based on politics, but that it can have reasonable restrictions to ensure order.
“Blinn College is allowed to implement what the courts call “time, place and manner” regulations to ensure that the operations of the college, including classes in session, are not disrupted,” he said.
First Amendment legal experts say Sanders has a strong case if they can show other types of speech were permitted in the same area.
“If they can prove that they were specially denied because they were for gun rights, then it would be unconstitutional viewpoint discrimination,” Eugene Volokh, a law professor at UCLA who specializes in the First Amendment, told FoxNews.com.
He added that it also was unconstitutional in another way.
“On government property, even in an airport outside the security cordon, bans on leafleting and other ‘low footprint’ speech would be unconstitutional,” he said.
Volokh blames the “bureaucratic mindset” of school officials but it goes far beyond that. This is a transparent attempt to control how individuals think, giving freedom to those who express viewpoints that liberals agree with while cracking down on anyone who dissents. The idea that campus officials weren’t aware they were violating the Constitution is absurd. The point is, they didn’t care.
For every Nicole Sanders there are probably a few dozen other students across the country whose First Amendment rights are trampled on regularly by liberal college officials. Only when they’re caught and publicly shamed do these anti-free speech Nazis change their tune.