Liberty Justice Center (LJC), a “national free speech law firm,” filed an appeal against Arizona State University (ASU) Thursday after a former student was convicted of trespassing after handing out constitutions on campus, according to Friday’s press release.
Tim Tizon, a now-former Arizona State University student, was arrested in March 2022 after he refused to stop passing out pamphlets of the United States constitution at ASU Tempe’s campus on behalf of the libertarian student organization Young Americans for Liberty (YAL), the press release explained. He is appealing the conviction at Maricopa County Circuit Court and is represented pro bono by LJC.
Tizon was a student at the time of the arrest, YAL and the law firm confirmed to the Daily Caller News Foundation.
“If free speech means anything it means that in a public area, at a public university, a student should not be arrested for handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution,” Reilly Stephens, LJC staff attorney, told the DCNF. “It starts being as simple as that.”
BREAKING: Tim Tizon, a student at Arizona State University was arrested and convicted for handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution. Yesterday, the @LJCenter appealed his conviction to protect his First Amendment rights. Learn more about the case here: https://t.co/Up6pdAZ1uU
— Liberty Justice Center (@LJCenter) January 27, 2023
Tizon had set up a table on the campus’ North Plaza with the YAL logo while distributing the pamphlets, according to the press release. He was reportedly told that the set up violated the school’s “reservation policy” and that he had to remain in a designated free speech zone located in an isolated part of campus.
“Universities are supposed to be the epicenter of the marketplace of ideas,” Tizon said, according to the press release. “ASU has let me down and every other student too by placing its bureaucracy ahead of our First Amendment rights.”
Free speech zones are designated locations on campus reserved for public speech. They are widely criticized by free speech activists as being unconstitutional, especially on a public campus, since they limit free expression to a specific location.
“It is absolutely silly that students have to worry about getting arrested for standing in the wrong patch of grass. Speech codes like this treat students like babies who aren’t capable of hearing a political idea without having a guidance counselor around,”Carter Quill, YAL’s director of media relations, told the DCNF. “People go to college to learn, not be coddled, and Tim Tizon deserves some justice for both this unjust arrest, and for having to put up with trigger happy campus administrators who need to learn their place.”
Cases like Tizon’s are commonplace on college campuses, Stephens told the DCNF.
“We’ve seen things like this happen at a lot of schools in a lot of different places in the country,” he said, “and we think that it’s important to stand up for the fact that our public universities are public and are for the public exchange of ideas, and all our client was trying to do was advocate for those ideas he cares about and advocate for the constitution.”
However, an ASU spokesperson challenged YAL’s characterizations of Tizon’s arrest and the university’s stance on free speech.
“ASU does not have free speech zones; all outdoor areas of our campus are open to the public for free speech,” the spokesperson told the DCNF.
“To clarify, this individual was not arrested for handing out Constitutions on campus,” the spokesperson said. “He refused to vacate a spot reserved for student and other university group tabling events. Individuals who do not have a reservation are asked to relocate to a space not designated as reservable. Mr. Tizon was given numerous opportunities to relocate, but he refused. He was then trespassed and cited by university police, as authorized under Arizona Law.”
Update: This article has been updated to include a statement from an ASU spokesperson.
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