Student group files suit against Arkansas State for limiting speech to 1% of campus

ADF attorneys represent Turning Point USA chapter organizers
Wednesday, December 13, 2017

Attorney sound bite:  Tyson Langhofer

JONESBORO, Ark. – Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a federal lawsuit Wednesday against Arkansas State University on behalf of the organizers of a student organization, Turning Point USA, to challenge the constitutionality of the ASU five-campus system’s restrictive speech policy. Among other things, the policy limits speech to roughly one percent of the Jonesboro campus.

“Public universities are supposed to be the marketplace of ideas, but those marketplaces can’t function properly when university officials stifle the ability of students to engage in free speech,” said ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer. “Arkansas State’s speech policies contain provisions that the courts have repeatedly struck down as unconstitutional at other schools. The university can demonstrate its dedication to the free exchange of ideas by modifying its policies to comport with the First Amendment.”

When ASU student Ashlyn Hoggard and another individual with Turning Point USA—a non-partisan organization that educates students about the importance of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government—recently attempted to set up a table outside the student union to generate interest in forming a chapter on campus, an administrator immediately stopped them, citing the university’s speech policy.

That policy unconstitutionally restricts speech activities to small zones on campus that total about one percent of the campus, requires advance permission for students to use the speech zones, and gives university officials free reign to restrict the content and viewpoint of student speech.

“Instead of fostering a marketplace of ideas, Arkansas State is unconstitutionally limiting exposure to ideas,” said ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “Today’s college students will be tomorrow’s judges, legislators, and voters, and with its current policies, Arkansas State is communicating to that generation that the First Amendment doesn’t matter.”

Ethan Nobles, one of more than 3,200 attorneys allied with ADF, is serving as local counsel in the lawsuit, Turning Point USA at Arkansas State University v. The Trustees of Arkansas State University, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
 
  • Pronunciation guide: Langhofer (LANG’-hoff-ur)

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, non-profit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.
 
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