Free speech group files quartet of lawsuits against speech codes
On July 1, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), filed four First Amendment lawsuits targeting colleges and universities with what it labels as unconstitutional speech codes.
The lawsuits charge Ohio University, Chicago State University, Iowa State University, and Citrus College with upholding unconstitutional restrictions on free speech. The announcement was made at the National Press Club as a part of FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project.
During the press conference FIRE President Greg Lukianoff chastised university restrictions on free speech.
"Universities' stubborn refusal to relinquish their speech codes must not be tolerated," Lukianoff said.
The lawsuits range from university censorship of student T-shirts to Chicago State University’s alleged intimidation and harassment of a faculty authored blog that exposed administrative corruption.
The goal of FIRE’s Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project is to limit any motivation behind censoring the speech of students or university faculty.
“By imposing a real cost for violating First Amendment rights, the Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project intends to reset the incentives that currently push colleges towards censoring student and faculty speech,” the project’s website reads.
FIRE seeks to “defend and sustain individual rights at America’s colleges and universities,”
“These rights include freedom of speech, legal equality, due process, religious liberty, and sanctity of conscience—the essential qualities of individual liberty and dignity.”
A request for comment from FIRE was not returned in time for publication.
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @CalebBonham