As reported by the Alliance Defense Fund, a federal district judge recently refused to dismiss a lawsuit challenging a Temple University sexual harassment policy on free speech grounds. The policy in question forbids conduct that “…has the purpose or effect of creating an intimidating, hostile, or offensive environment.”
In refusing to dismiss the lawsuit, the district court relied heavily on Saxe v. State College Area School District, 240 F.3d 200 (3d Cir. 2001), a case in which FIRE collaborated on an appellate strategy. In Saxe, the Third Circuit Court of Appeals (whose jurisdiction includes Pennsylvania) ruled that a harassment policy with the exact same language was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad. As this decision is binding precedent upon the district court, it is unlikely that Temple’s policy will be upheld.
As FIRE has pointed out time and time again, speech codes have been consistent losers when challenged in federal court. Hopefully Temple will realize this and voluntarily drop their immoral speech code before being forced to do so.
To learn more about protecting yourfree speech rights, make sure to check out FIRE’s Guide to Free Speech on Campus.