UPDATE: Student wins $50,000 settlement over First Amendment from public school in California

  • Modesto Junior College prevented student Robert Van Tuinen from passing out copies of the U.S. Constitution on National Constitution Day.

A student at Modesto Junior College (MJC) won a $50,000 settlement Monday after school officials ordered him to stop distributing copies of the U.S. Constitution on National Constitution Day.

As originally reported by Campus Reform in September of last year, a video shows an unidentified school officer arguing with MJC student Robert Van Tuinen about handing out pocket-sized U.S. Constitutions in the designated free speech zone. The officer then escorts Van Tuinen to the administrative office where he is informed about the school’s rules and regulations, which require students to register before using the free speech zone.

Watch: Modesto Junior College official stops student from handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution.

In the settlement, MJC agreed to revise campus speech codes, which previously restricted free speech to a small area in front of the student center, and pay Van Tuinen $50,000.

“They were maintaining an unconstitutional speech code, and now any of my fellow students can go out and exercise their right to free speech,” Mr. Van Tuinen, told Fox News.

“I am thrilled with this outcome, and I am grateful to my attorneys and FIRE [Foundation for Individual Rights in Education] for securing this agreement," Tuinen said in a statement.

“Now the Modesto Junior College community and I will be able to engage in free discussion on campus. I encourage students at other schools with restrictive free speech policies to stand up for their rights.”

According to Van Tuinen, most of the $50,000 will go towards paying off legal fees and other bills.

Follow the author of this article on Twitter@SteveLarson

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