Last week, in the space of 24 hours, FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project scored two victories in the fight for First Amendment rights on campus. On December 2, 2014, the University of Hawaii (UH) agreed to a settlement with two students, Merritt Burch and Anthony Vizzone, who had been stopped from passing out copies of the U.S. Constitution and ordered to keep their protest against the National Security Agency inside the Hilo campus’ free speech zone. The next day, California’s Citrus College settled with student Vincenzo Sinapi-Riddle, who sued the school with FIRE’s help after he was forbidden to circulate a petition outside of Citrus’s designated free-speech zone.
Check out some of the recent news coverage of the victories:
- The Chronicle of Higher Education, “2 Colleges Pay a Combined $160,000 to Settle Free-Speech Lawsuits,” Andy Thomason
- College Insurrection, “FIRE Celebrates Two Victories for Free Speech on Campus in 24 Hours,” Aleister
- Minding the Campus, “Another Victory for FIRE,” Editor
- Hawaii Tribune-Herald, “UH Settles First Amendment Suit,” Colin Stewart
- Hawaii News Now, “UH Agrees to New Free Speech Policy,” Associated Press
- Ka Leo O Hawai’i, “University of Hawai’i Settles in Free Speech Lawsuit, Says Not Liable,” Alden Alayvilla
- Honolulu Star Advertiser, “Lawsuit Prompts UH Policy Changes,” Timothy Hurley
- Seattle Post-Intelligencer, “U of Hawaii Agrees to New Free Speech Policy,” Associated Press
- The College Fix, “Update: University Settles Speech-Squelching Lawsuit, Changes Policies,” Greg Piper
- San Gabriel Valley Tribune, “Citrus College to Pay $110,000 to Settle Student’s First Amendment Lawsuit,” Melissa Masatani
- One News Now, “California College Gets Busted, Again, for Violating Free Speech,” Bob Kellogg
- FoxNews.com, “California College Settles First Amendment Suit With Student”
- Campus Safety, “College Reaches $110K Free Speech Settlement With Student,” CS Staff
- The College Fix, “College That Squelched Student Speech Under Court Supervision for a Year,” Greg Piper
FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project aims to help plaintiffs file lawsuits against public colleges and universities with unconstitutional speech codes in each federal court circuit. While there are currently SUFS cases pending in the Sixth, Seventh, and Eighth Circuits, for the first time since the project began, we do not have a case in the Ninth Circuit. Colleges and universities in that part of the country should not relax, however. We will keep working with students and faculty to attack unconstitutional speech codes in court until schools voluntarily change their policies to comply with the First Amendment.
FIRE applauds Merritt, Anthony, Vinny, and all of the student-plaintiffs who have already joined us in standing up for free speech on campus. Their courage has vindicated not only their own rights but also those of 70,000 fellow students throughout the University of Hawaii system and at Citrus College.
If you’re a student and you’ve been censored by your college or university, FIRE wants to help! Email us at firstname.lastname@example.org and visit the Stand Up For Speech website to learn more about the project.
Check back to The Torch for more updates, and help spread the word by tweeting #standup4speech.