ADF attorney available to media after hearing in ‘Ask God what your grade is’ case

L.A. Community College District seeks to continue its unconstitutional speech code
Tuesday, March 02, 2010

WHO: ADF Litigation Staff Counsel David J. Hacker
WHAT: Available for media interviews following hearing in Lopez v. Candaele
WHEN: Wednesday, March 3, immediately after hearing, which begins at 9:30 a.m. PST
WHERE: U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit, Richard H. Chambers U.S. Court of Appeals Building, 125 S. Grand Ave., Pasadena

PASADENA, Calif. — Alliance Defense Fund Litigation Staff Counsel David J. Hacker will be available for media interviews following his arguments at a hearing Wednesday in a lawsuit spurred by a Los Angeles Community College District professor who called a Christian student a “fascist bastard,” accused him of offending others, and wrote “Ask God what your grade is” on the student’s speech evaluation after he spoke about his faith during a classroom speech.

The hearing focuses on LACCD’s appeal of an injunction against a district policy that prohibited students from creating an “offensive” environment. The policy unconstitutionally restricts student speech on campus, but the district wants to keep enforcing the policy.

“A public college shouldn’t penalize Christian students for expressing their beliefs, let alone seek to enforce policies that have already been found unconstitutional,” said Hacker. “If the L.A. Community College District truly cares about its students’ rights, it will cease its attempts to undermine their protections guaranteed by the First Amendment.”

ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit Lopez v. Candaele in the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California after a professor censored and threatened to expel student Jonathan Lopez following a speech he gave about his Christian faith during an open-ended assignment in a public speaking class.

In July 2009, the court issued an order halting enforcement of the district’s speech code while the lawsuit moves forward. The code would have empowered administrators to punish Lopez for engaging in what it called “hateful propaganda.” The court found that U.S. Supreme Court precedent supports the order restraining the code, part of the district’s “sexual harassment policy,” noting that First Amendment rights should not be more loosely applied on college campuses than in the community at large. LACCD’s motion to reconsider the ruling was denied in September 2009, as the court noted that “the Policy undeniably targets the content of expression” and is “unconstitutionally overbroad by sweeping within its reach a substantial amount of protected speech.”

Sam Kim and Michael Parker, two of more than 1,600 attorneys in the ADF alliance, are serving as local counsel in the case. 
ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.