In 1994, law student Rob Corry joined with eight other students to file a legal challenge to a Stanford University speech code. It was the first-ever lawsuit filed under California’s recently-enacted “Leonard Law,” which applies First Amendment protections to private, non-sectarian colleges in the state of California (like Stanford), and which the students argued made Stanford’s restrictions on free speech unlawful.
Winning wasn’t going to be easy: Corry would be representing himself and his co-plaintiffs against one of America’s richest and most powerful research universities.
But on Feb. 27, 1995 - 22 years ago next week - a California state court judge sided with Corry and struck down Stanford’s speech code (opinion) as an impermissible, content-based restriction on expression.
The victory earned Corry the title of “speech code slayer” in a campus newspaper.
Today, on “So to Speak: The Free Speech Podcast,” we talk with Corry of Corry v. Stanford about the seminal lawsuit, how he overcame the challenges of representing himself in court, and why other students should feel emboldened by his victory to challenge their colleges’ speech codes.
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