VIDEO: Student sues college after they refused to let him pass out pocket Constitutions

Timothy Dionisopoulos
Former Reporter

  • Suit claims his First Amendment Rights were violated
  • Demands change in speech zone policy and monetary damages
  • College president denies the school has free speech requirements
  • Modesto Junior College (MJC) was named in a federal free-speech lawsuit earlier today, in response to an incident last month in which school officials prevented a student from passing out pocket Constitutions.

    MJC student Robert Van Tuinen, a member of Young Americans for Liberty, caught administrators and campus police on video accosting him for passing out pocket Constitutions at a Constitution Day event.

    The student is demanding the free speech policy is eliminated.   

    In a press release from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), Van Tuinen alleges the school violated his first amendment rights under both the United States and California Constitutions.

    In the suit, Van Tuinen is demanding the free speech policy is eliminated, and also is seeking monetary damages.

    An official statement from MJC President Jill Stearns claims the college has no free speech requirements.

    “As described in the District's official Board Policy and Administrative Procedure, students may distribute printed material on campus in areas generally available to students and the community as long as they do not disrupt the orderly operation of the college.”

    WATCH: The saga of a student banned from passing out pocket constitutions

    Stearns  claimed MJC has formally apologized to Van Tuinen and added that staff have been harassed and called “morons, idiots, whores, and Nazis,” in response to the incident.

     FIRE claims Stearn’s statement directly contradicts an unconstitutional school policy which was exposed by Van Tuinen.

    “As FIRE has said from the beginning, every person at Modesto Junior College responsible for enforcing this policy should have known better,” said FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley in an official statement.

    “The fact that Modesto’s policy was not immediately abandoned when its shameful results were exposed on video is more evidence that too many college administrators fear freedom of speech—and demonstrates how out of touch they are with an American public that respects the First Amendment,” he added.

    Van Tuinen is represented by law firm Davis Wright Tremaine who will be assisted by FIRE in the suit.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @TimPDion





    Timothy Dionisopoulos

    Timothy Dionisopoulos

    Former Reporter
    Tim Dionisopoulos is a former reporter for Campus Reform and communications editor in the Leadership Institute's Campus Leadership Program. Tim joined Campus Reform in the summer of 2011, and his stories were cited or re-posted on the Daily Mail, the Drudge Report, Fox News, and other national media outlets. Tim graduated in 2011 from Providence College in Rhode Island where he was politically active on campus and in the community.
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