Louisiana State University has adopted a new speech policy in the wake of an Alliance Defending Freedom lawsuit filed on behalf of a student restricted from distributing pro-life material beyond a 1,000 square-foot area on campus. Students can now distribute literature throughout the campus without obtaining prior approval.
“Public colleges and universities should encourage, not shut down, the free exchange of ideas,” said Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “We commend LSU for promptly revising its student speech policy to clarify that students can freely express themselves on the sidewalks and open spaces at the university.”
In October 2012, a student decided she wanted to participate in the Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity by distributing written materials. After asking where on campus she could hand out literature, the university informed her that she could only do so in “Free Speech Alley,” which is approximately 1,000 square feet of the university’s entire 650 acres. The university also told her that she had to register with the Office of Campus Life prior to distributing any literature to ensure that others had not already reserved the limited spaces in the speech zone.
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Under the newly clarified speech policy, students are free to distribute literature almost anywhere on campus and without obtaining prior approval.
“The university is supposed to be the marketplace of ideas,” added Senior Legal Counsel Jeremy Tedesco. “LSU’s revised policy now allows students to practice their constitutionally protected freedom of speech as America’s founders intended.”
Larry Bossier, one of nearly 2,300 allied attorneys with Alliance Defending Freedom, served as local counsel in the suit, Candler v. Jenkins, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Middle District of Louisiana.