As we announced in our press release today, a federal judge granted a preliminary injunction prohibiting San Francisco State University (SFSU) and the California State University (CSU) System as a whole from enforcing several unconstitutional speech codes. The codes were challenged in a lawsuit filed by attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF) in cooperation with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).
This lawsuit—the latest in FIRE’s Speech Codes Litigation Project—was filed by the SFSU College Republicans and two of the group’s individual members after SFSU violated the group’s First Amendment rights last year by dragging them through a 5-month investigation and hearing for engaging in nothing more than constitutionally protected expression.
The transcript of the hearing, available on FIRE’s website, reveals a judge with a refreshing grasp of the First Amendment. U.S. Magistrate Judge Wayne Brazil—who described himself as a “friend of the First Amendment”—told the parties present at the hearing that the many cases restricting the free speech rights of high school students were not applicable in this case, because “university students are supposed to be adults,” and also because “the mission of a university is to explore with considerable assertiveness” and with “untrammeled energy” important issues facing society. Judge Brazil added that “that’s not the mission of a high school.”
Several of the policies enjoined are applicable to the entire CSU System, which means that hundreds of thousands of students are freer thanks to Judge Brazil’s decision. This is a decisive victory for free speech on campus.
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