Advancing Religious Liberty
8/26/13 at 06:33 PM 3 Comments

New Victories for Pro-Life Speech On University Campuses

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Author: Alliance Defending Freedom President, CEO, and General Counsel Alan Sears

Last week, I told you some good news about the real, tangible, life-saving impact your gifts and support for Alliance Defending Freedom are having on pro-life efforts coast to coast. But, of course, for that impact to have its maximum effect on the thinking and attitudes of your friends, neighbors, and family members, you have to be able to talk about what’s happening … to discuss freely your own thoughts and convictions about the sanctity of human life.

Unfortunately, on public school and university campuses across the country, our young people’s freedom to discuss their beliefs is under as intense an assault as the beliefs themselves. That’s why our attorneys are working tirelessly to defend the right of your children and grandchildren to speak their convictions with grace and clarity to those around them.

In Minnesota, several sixth grade students at a public school handed out pro-life flyers to other students during lunch. Called to the school director’s office, they were told that some students found such flyers offensive … so there would be no more handing out of these flyers during or even after school, even if students asked for them. The director then emailed the sixth graders’ parents, assuring them that “The school has a right to censor students without violating their free speech,” and “public schools have every right to prohibit student speech.”

In fact, “the First Amendment protects freedom of speech for all students, regardless of their religious or political beliefs,” says Alliance Defending Freedom Legal Counsel Matt Sharp. “The law on that point is extremely clear: free speech cannot be censored simply because it expresses a certain viewpoint that administrators don’t favor.” When our attorneys (working with allied attorney Stan Zahorsky) filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of one the 6th-graders, the school opted to revise its literature distribution policy.

A remarkably similar situation unfolded at Louisiana State University, after a student decided to participate in the Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity by handing out written materials on campus. When she asked where she could do that, administrators directed her to “Free Speech Alley” – a narrow 1,000 square-foot slot on the 650-acre campus. She was forbidden to share her pro-life materials anywhere outside of that space. Officials also told her she would have to register with the Office of Campus Life – in case someone else had already reserved Free Speech Alley.

After Alliance Defending Freedom staff attorneys (working with Allied Attorney Larry Bossier) filed a lawsuit on the young woman’s behalf, the university elected to change its speech policy, and now students are free to distribute literature almost anywhere on campus without obtaining prior approval.

“The university is supposed to be the marketplace of ideas,” says 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.”

Please be in prayer for all of our staff and allied attorneys as they work diligently to preserve the constitutional protections of speech and religious freedom for you and your family.

This post originally appeared here.

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