Georgia Tech repeals speech code; no future policy changes without court approval

ADF attorneys secure end to unconstitutional speech code that suppressed students’ First Amendment rights
Tuesday, August 15, 2006

ATLANTA — Monday a federal judge issued an order repealing the restrictive speech code at the Georgia Institute of Technology.  Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund and university officials agreed to the terms of the order, which includes a provision that prohibits the university from changing its new student speech policy without court approval for the next five years.

“Universities are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas,” said ADF Senior Legal Counsel David French, who heads ADF’s Center for Academic Freedom.  “Officials at Georgia Tech had been enforcing draconian speech codes that prohibited any kind of student speech they deemed to be ‘intolerant.’  This is a tremendous victory for free speech.”

ADF attorneys filed the lawsuit, Sklar v. Clough, in the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Georgia on behalf of two students in March.

“The order from the court will replace Georgia Tech’s speech code with one that does a much better job of respecting students’ constitutional rights to free speech.  The order also makes sure no one changes the new policy without judicial consent so that these rights continue to be protected,” French explained.

“The First Amendment applies to all students on campus, including religious students and students who hold conservative political beliefs,” French added.  “We are glad that we reached a mutually agreeable settlement with the university that respects and protects the fundamental right to free speech.”

In addition, the judge denied Georgia Tech’s request that the case be dismissed.  ADF will proceed with the other parts of the case, which includes challenges to the university’s unlawful exclusion of religious activities from student fee funding and the university’s unlawful establishment of religion in its so-called “Safe Space” training program.

ADF’s Center for Academic Freedom was formed in 2005 to combat the violation of the constitutional free speech and religious liberty rights of Christian students on public university campuses.

ADF is a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation.

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