Free speech group calls out ‘constitutional no-no,' sues Texas State for multiple policies

The legal advocacy group Speech First filed a lawsuit against Texas State University on Apr. 13, alleging that two of its policies violate the First and Fourteenth Amendments.

The harassment and internet use policies 'deter, suppress, and punish' students for engaging with the 'political and social issues of the day,' resulting in a chilling effect on conservative speech.

A legal advocacy group is suing Texas State University over policies that allegedly have a chilling effect on conservative students’ speech. 

Speech First–the Cherise Trump-led organization fighting bias reporting systems, the “overreach“ of Title IX, and the compelled ideology of DEI–filed the lawsuit on Apr. 13. TXST’s harassment and internet use policies, the lawsuit says, infringe on students’ protected speech, violating the First and Fourteenth Amendments. 

[RELATED: University eliminates bias reporting system after receiving legal demand letter]

A recent article in the Austin American-Statesman shared a press release from Speech First, which argues that policies at the San Marcos-based university “deter, suppress, and punish” students for engaging with the “political and social issues of the day.”

The first policy prohibits unwelcome conduct directed at students because of their “race,” “gender expression,” or another aspect of their identities. Students are disciplined under the harassment policy, the lawsuit continues, if their conduct is “severe or pervasive” enough to impact education or employment, creating an “environment that a reasonable person would find intimidating, offensive, or hostile.” 

But the lawsuit calls the policy “a constitutional no-no” that “extends well beyond the Supreme Court’s definition of harassment.”

Texas State’s second policy, challenged by Speech First, prohibits students from using “information resources to affect the result of a local, state, or national election or to achieve any other political purpose.” The policy, the lawsuit argues, effectively prevents students from sending political content through university email accounts. 

[RELATED: Universities continue to violate free speech despite losing legal battles]

Speech First’s lawsuit describes these policies’ impact on three pseudonymous students, identified as “A,” “B,” and “C.” All three are conservatives whose views on topics including abortion, gender, and immigration “are unpopular, controversial, and in the minority on campus.” 

These students reportedly refrain from sharing their views and “send[ing] politically oriented emails” to avoid punishment under the harassment and internet policies. 

Trump says that students “choose not to speak up, concerned they may be accused of harassment for ‘offending’ someone,” according to Speech First’s press release. 

“Instead of promoting an environment of learning, intellectual exploration, and open discourse, Texas State has chosen the inverse,” she argues. “Texas State administrators have created a campus controlled by fear where students are afraid to share their opinions, engage their classmates, or even posit new ideas.”

Jayme Blaschke with Texas State’s Office of Media Relations told Campus Reform that the university “is reviewing the complaint and has no comment at this time.” 

Campus Reform contacted all relevant parties listed for comment and will update this article accordingly.