Students may now hand out copies of the Constitution on this campus (they couldn’t before)
A Modesto Junior College student has prevailed in his lawsuit against the administration, meaning that students will now be permitted to exercise their constitutional rights to distribute copies of the Constitution anywhere on campus.
Last year, student Robert Van Tuinen attempted to celebrate Constitution Day by handing out copies of the U.S. founding document, which codifies the rights against oppressive public institutions. A campus police officer forced him to cease his activities and hauled him before an administrator, who told Van Tuinen that he was in violation of school policy. He could only hand out flyers while standing in the campus “free speech zone,” a tiny block of concrete that had been reserved by someone else on that day. (RELATED: Campus cop stops student from handing out Constitutions … ON CONSTITUTION DAY)
The administration’s policy on distribution of the Constitution actually violates the First Amendment to the Constitution, according to free speech experts at the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education. With help from FIRE and the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine LLP, Van Tuinen sued Modesto–and on Tuesday, he claimed victory. (RELATED: Student denied constitutional rights speaks out against college)
As part of Van Tuinen’s settlement with Modesto, the college will now permit students to hand out flyers wherever and whenever they wish. Van Tuinen was also paid $50,000.
“I am thrilled with this outcome and I am grateful to my attorneys and FIRE for securing this agreement,” said Van Tuinen in a statement to The Daily Caller. “Now the Modesto Junior College community and I will be able to engage in free discussion on campus. I encourage students at other schools with restrictive free speech policies to stand up for their rights.”
FIRE President Greg Lukianoff applauded the outcome, but said that nearly 60 percent of colleges across the country still employ unconstitutional restrictions on the First Amendment.
“There’s much more work to be done,” he said in a statement.
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