University Sued For Limiting Free Speech To Lunchtime

Rob Shimshock | Education Reporter

A pro-liberty student group sued the University of Massachusetts-Amherst Monday for its free speech policy limiting speeches and rallies to one hour per day.

Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) sued the university for prohibiting students from engaging in speeches and rallies on campus during all times of the day except from 12 p.m. to 1 p.m., according to a press release obtained by The Daily Caller News Foundation.

“It is shocking to hear that students can get kicked out of a public tax-payer funded university for exercising their First Amendment rights when these universities should be championing the Constitution,” said Cliff Maloney, YAL’s president, in the press release. “The Constitution does not say the First Amendment only applies during lunch break.”

YAL notes that UMass-Amherst does not define “speech” or “rally” in its policy, suggesting that this establishes nebulous parameters with which administrators can arbitrarily ban speech. The organization primarily argues that the school violates the First Amendment via its restrictions on the time and space students can occupy with their speech.

“A public university is hardly the marketplace of ideas that it’s supposed to be when the marketplace is less than one percent of campus and only open for one hour a day—and then only if university officials approve of your presence there,” said Caleb Dalton, legal counsel for the Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative nonprofit. “UMass-Amherst’s speech policy contains provisions similar to those that courts have repeatedly struck down as unconstitutional at other schools. If the university wishes to demonstrate its dedication to the free exchange of ideas, it can do so by fixing its policy so that it’s consistent with the First Amendment.”

TheDCNF reached out to UMass-Amherst for comment, but received none in time for press.

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