Maryland University Changes Speech Codes After Pro-Life Group Complains

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Aug 12, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Maryland University Changes Speech Codes After Pro-Life Group Complains

by Steven Ertelt Editor
August 12
, 2008

Baltimore, MD ( — A Maryland university has agreed to modify their allegedly unconstitutional “speech code” and “speech zone” policies that restricted a pro-life student group from sharing its message on campus. University of Maryland-Baltimore County officials responded to issues raised from a pro-life law firm.

Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom filed a lawsuit in April on behalf of Rock for Life students against the university after it forced the group to move its pro-life display to less visible locations.

After UMBC student Alexander Vernet reserved space for the Rock for Life club’s display for a presentation in front of the University Center, the university’s Office of Student Life rescinded its permission and made the group move the display numerous times.

Once the students relocated the display from the high-visibility University Center to the lower-trafficked Commons building patio area, university officials, backed by campus police, ordered them to move the display to a large vacant field behind the Commons, where even fewer students would see it.

The university says it will remove unconstitutional policy provisions prohibiting supposed “emotional harassment” and “intimidation.”

The university also agreed to amend its speech zone policy — eliminating the unlimited power it previously had over student events — and will provide safeguards for First Amendment expression.

“Pro-life students at the University of Maryland shouldn’t suffer discrimination for their beliefs,” ADF Senior Legal Counsel Steven H. Aden told “We are encouraged by the university’s decision to change its speech policies so that the constitutional rights of its students will be respected.”

Rock for Life plaintiffs will go forward to trial to ensure that the university changes the section of its speech code that unconstitutionally infringes on free speech.

In addition, the lawsuit, Rock for Life v. Hrabowski, will continue to seek an injunction against the university’s sexual harassment policy, which has also been used to unconstitutionally silence student speech.

Related web sites:
Alliance Defense Fund —


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