Federal judge blocks California college from enforcing policy that discriminates against views of conservative students

The ideological left has become increasingly censorious and discriminatory toward political and social views it disagrees with, and nowhere is that more apparent than on college and university campuses.

A federal judge, however, just blocked a California community college from continuing to enforce its policy for student-posted flyers after conservative students alleged that the school had discriminated against its expressed views, The Washington Times reported.

College’s discriminatory flyer policy

At issue here was the official flyer policy of Clovis Community College that, among other things, barred students from posting flyers on billboards without prior approval from the school itself or that contained “inappropriate or offensive” language or themes.

The problem arose in 2021 when three conservative students who were members of the Young Americans for Freedom organization attempted to post anti-communism and pro-life flyers on the billboards that were made available for public posting by individuals and groups.

According to the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, the legal group that supported the students in their lawsuit, school officials had relocated the anti-communism flyers from the main billboards in a highly trafficked area to a purported “free speech kiosk” located in an infrequently used section of the campus after some students had complained of being made to feel “uncomfortable” by the anti-communism message.

A short time later, the students sought permission to post pro-life flyers to coincide with the oral arguments in the Supreme Court’s Dobbs case but were denied by the school.

That led to the lawsuit filed in August by the students that alleged that the school’s flyer policy constituted unconstitutional prior restraint against their free speech and allowed the school to discriminate against their conservative political and social views.

Preliminary injunction issued

In a 32-page ruling issued Friday, District Judge Jennifer Thurston agreed that the Clovis Community College flyer policy was vague and overbroad and violated the First Amendment-protected right to free speech of the students.

The judge wrote that the policy “undermines the school’s own interest in fostering a diversity of viewpoints on campus, thus frustrating, rather than promoting, the College’s basic educational mission.”

As such, Thurston issued a preliminary injunction that barred the school “from enforcing the Flyer Policy in so far as it requires preapproval from College administrators or staff and prohibits ‘inappropriate or offensive language or themes.'”

Victory for free speech; school not happy with decision

“The court told Clovis what we’ve been telling them all along: You can’t censor students just because you don’t like their message,” FIRE attorney Jeff Zeman said in a statement. “The fight isn’t over. We’ve defeated this unconstitutional policy, but we won’t stop until Clovis treats all student speech equally.”

As for the school, its attorney Anthony DeMaria told the Times, “Clovis Community College fully supports the rights of all students to express their full opinions,” but added, “We are disappointed in the court’s ruling because we believe there were some legal principles that supported the original policy.”

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