[lg policy] Pierce College student’s free-speech lawsuit can proceed, judge rules

Harold Schiffman haroldfs at gmail.com
Sat Jan 20 10:34:24 EST 2018

 Pierce College student’s free-speech lawsuit can proceed, judge rules
[image: 0329_nws_ldn_l_pierce_kevin_shaw_large_12]
Student Kevin Shaw stands in the free speech area at Pierce College in
Woodland Hills in a 2017 photo taken by Dawn Bowery of the Foundation for
Individual Rights in Education.
By Kevin Modesti <https://www.dailynews.com/author/kevin-modesti/> |
kmodesti at scng.com | Daily News
PUBLISHED: January 18, 2018 at 4:37 pm | UPDATED: January 18, 2018 at 4:40

WOODLAND HILLS — A Pierce College student who drew national attention with
his claim that a campus “free speech zone” policy infringes on his First
Amendment rights may proceed with his lawsuit, a U.S. District Court judge
said this week.

Rejecting a motion by Pierce <http://www.piercecollege.edu/> and the Los
Angeles Community College District
<https://www.laccd.edu/Pages/default.aspx> to dismiss the suit, Judge Otis
D. Wright II of the United States District Court for the Central District
of California cited previous court decisions upholding people’s right to
express their opinions in public places and the role of colleges in
encouraging the exchange of ideas.

The district court did grant one motion from the defense, dismissing
student Kevin Shaw’s claim for monetary damages against college
administrators based on public officials’ immunity from liability for
decisions made in their official roles.

But overall, the order issued Monday was an incremental victory for Shaw
and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), whose
attorneys helped to bring the lawsuit.

It also should gladden the U.S. Department of Justice, which has supported
the suit.

The suit challenges a Pierce College policy that prevented Shaw from
distributing Spanish-language copies of the U.S. Constitution and recruit
members for the a chapter of the libertarian-conservative group Young
Americans for Liberty (YAL) outside the 616-square-foot “free speech zone”
on the 426-acre campus in the San Fernando Valley community of Woodland

“The court’s ruling sends an important message to colleges nationwide that
still restrict student speech to free speech zones,” FIRE Director of
Litigation Marieke Tuthill Beck-Coon said in a statement. “The campus is a
college student’s public square. It’s their place to be engaged citizens.

“The public recognizes this. So do courts across the country. Now it’s time
for LACCD to follow suit.”

LACCD spokesman Yusef Robb said the district doesn’t comment on pending
litigation, but said in a statement: “We are fully committed to free
expression on our campuses. As a community college district, promoting the
free exchange of ideas and knowledge is at the core of what we do, every


 Harold F. Schiffman

Professor Emeritus of
 Dravidian Linguistics and Culture
Dept. of South Asia Studies
University of Pennsylvania
Philadelphia, PA 19104-6305

Phone:  (215) 898-7475
Fax:  (215) 573-2138

Email:  haroldfs at gmail.com

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