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Federal Court Orders Illinois College to Allow Campus Visitors to Hand Out Flyers

The Rutherford Institute, aided by Chicago attorneys Whitman Brisky and Noel Sterett, filed suit in federal court last July on behalf of two social activists, Wayne Lela and John McCartney, who were told they could not hand out written materials detailing their controversial views on homosexuality while on the Waubonsee Community College (WCC) campus. The Rutherford Institute reports today that the court has granted a preliminary injunction in Lela and Wayne’s favor. The court found that the public Illinois college impermissibly rejected the materials based on their content, and it instructed WCC to allow the pair to leaflet on campus.

The Rutherford Institute’s press release reviews the plaintiffs’ claims:

In the lawsuit against WCC and the subsequent motion for a preliminary injunction, Rutherford Institute attorneys argued the policy making the campus available for use by non-college groups provided the use is “consistent with the philosophy, goals and mission of the college” constitutes impermissible viewpoint discrimination on its face. Additionally, Institute attorneys asserted that WCC discriminated against Lela and McCartney because it forbade them from passing out flyers on the campus because of the viewpoints expressed in the flyers. The complaint also alleged that WCC’s policies are unconstitutionally vague by giving unfettered discretion to college officials to determine who may or may not speak on the campus.

FIRE is glad to see the court recognize that “provocative speech is entitled to the same protection as speech promoting popular notions.” U.S. District Court Judge Robert W. Gettleman aptly noted in his ruling that “it is not popular ideas, accepted by all, that need protecting.”

Check back to The Torch for further updates on this case.

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