HomeSchool Reform NewsUniversities Continue to Violate Free Speech Despite Losing Legal Battles

Universities Continue to Violate Free Speech Despite Losing Legal Battles

Bias reporting systems prevent students from expressing their viewpoints and opinions in the classroom

The Christian legal nonprofit, Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), recently won more than $1.5 million in free speech lawsuits against college campuses.

In cases involving the University of Idaho, the University of Nebraska, the University of North Texas, Georgia Gwinnett College, and six others, ADF defended students’ and faculties’ rights to free speech on college campuses, as recently reported by the College Fix.

From cases settled as far back as January 2021 to as recently as December of last year, ADF has won nine legal battles, some with winnings paying as low as $25,000 in two of the nine cases to as high as $800,000 in one case.

[RELATED: 2022 in Review: 5 COVID lawsuits filed against universities]

In the case that resulted in an $800,000 payout, “A Christian student [Chike Uzuegbunam] sued Georgia Gwinnett College [in Atlanta] after the school prevented him from evangelizing on campus,” as the College Fix summarizes.

“In 2016, Georgia Gwinnett College officials stopped Uzuegbunam not once, but twice, from peacefully sharing his Christian faith with his fellow students on campus. First, officials said he had to get advance permission to use one of two tiny speech zones that made up far less than 1% of the campus and were only open 10% of the week. Later, they stopped him from speaking again, though he had followed these policies,” ADF wrote in a 2022 article.

ADF is not alone in its victories, however.

As Campus Reform exclusively covered mid-last year, “Southeastern Legal Foundation (SLF) sent letters to 12 universities across the country demanding that they change ‘unconstitutional’ policies that impede students’ freedom of speech.”

While ADF defended clients who faced discrimination for taking stances against things such as “microaggressions,” or having Biblical perspectives on gay marriage, or for critiquing “Black Lives Mater and transgenderism,” SLF targeted universities’ usage of bias reporting systems due to their potential to chill students’ free speech rights.

Bias reporting systems prevent students from expressing their viewpoints and opinions in the classroom.

Files obtained through public record requests showed that students were reporting their peers for expressing alternative views, as Campus Reform reported in 2021.

At Georgia State University, for example, “a member of the Patherns for Black Feminism reported her fellow Black student club, the Black Student Alliance, for alleged ‘Queerphobia’” in 2018.

A PDF of the student’s complaint reads that a member of the Black Student Alliance (BSA) group on campus “made a queerphobic comment” when saying “‘gay people impede the black family,’” and requested that the university hold the BSA member “accountable for their actions.”

[RELATED: University pays $30k in free speech lawsuit]

Despite losing legal battles, universities are expected to continue their assault on students’ First Amendment rights and create a hostile environment that prevents students from sharing their opinions.

“As campuses have opened back up, we’ve seen a resurgence in America’s universities silencing conservative students,” Cece O’Leary, an attorney and Director of 1A Project at SLF told Campus Reform. “Through unreasonable speech codes, bias reporting forms, and now even student governments, universities continue to double down on their intolerance for diverse viewpoints.”

In response, SLF is ensuring that students know their rights.

“The First Amendment will prevail, but students must know their rights. That’s why Southeastern Legal Foundation is expanding its First Amendment training programs—which have already educated over 10,000 college students—and continues to represent students across our country in legal actions to fight back against those who silence them,” she concluded.

ADF’s Media Relations Manager Ellie Wittman told Campus Reform that it expects “to see many more victories for free speech on college campus” this year.

“ADF has already achieved over 440 victories on college campuses, and we are confident we will see many more this year,” Wittman continued. “Universities continue to implement unconstitutional policies… in ways that violate students’ and professors’ constitutional rights, and this only seems to be getting worse. But ADF stands ready to represent students and professors who are harmed by these policies.”

Campus Reform continues to track free speech lawsuits against universities.

For more great content from School Reform News.

For more from The Heartland Institute.

Jared Gould
Jared Gould
Jared Gould serves as News Editor at Campus Reform. Prior to joining our team, Jared worked with former Governor Phil Bryant at Bryant Songy Snell Global Partners, a private government relations and business consulting firm in Ridgeland, Mississippi.


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