Sessions: Campus Free Speech Restrictions Is An Issue

The Department of Justice filed a statement of interest Tuesday in the case of Kevin Shaw, a California student at Los Angeles Pierce College, who tried to hand out copies of the Constitution on campus and was told he was only allowed to do so in a small, designated, free speech zone after he obtained a permit. Shaw said the college’s system of applying for permits allows administrators unchecked authority to grant or deny permits.

Shaw’s lawsuit, filed last year, challenges the constitutionality of the school’s policies which effectively restrict free expression on campus to a 616 square-foot “Free Speech Area.”

“In order to use the Free Speech Area—which comprises approximately .003% of the campus—students must obtain prior authorization from campus officials by submitting a permit application,” the DOJ notes. “The College also maintains unpublished rules governing free speech, which students are not made aware of until they obtain a permit application.”

The DOJ argues in their brief that the college’s rules are an “unconstitutional prior restraint.”

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