Iowa State 'chilling' political speech weeks before caucuses. That could soon change.
- The free speech nonprofit Speech First filed a preliminary injunction amid its ongoing lawsuit against Iowa State University.
- The lawsuit alleges the college is "chilling" political speech just weeks before the Iowa caucuses.
The free speech nonprofit Speech First has filed a request for a preliminary injunction in its lawsuit against Iowa State University.
The request asked that the university’s new speech policies, which were the focus of the lawsuit, not be enforced until after the case has been decided. The reasoning for this is to not allow the policy to potentially influence the current political cycle with the Iowa presidential caucuses less than one month away.
According to Speech First’s filing, “Iowa State University and its officials have created a series of rules and regulations that restrain, deter, suppress, and punish speech about the political and social issues of the day. And the University has done so despite Iowa’s central role as the 'first in the nation' to weigh in on presidential elections.”
In order for the preliminary injunction to be granted, four requirements must be met: "the threat of irreparable harm to [its members]; (2) balancing this harm with any injury an injunction would inflict on other interested parties; (3) the probability that [Speech First] would succeed on the merits; and (4) the effect on the public interest."
Speech First asserted that its request meets these requirements, as Speech First will likely succeed on the merits, and in First Amendment cases, this third requirement is decisive and fulfills the other three.
Speech First also argued that it is in the public interest to be granted a preliminary injunction because the public interest is in protecting citizens' First Amendment rights. The organization cites the landmark case, Elrod v. Burns, in the filing that “the deprivation of core constitutional rights, even for a brief period of time, is an irreparable injury, and remedying such deprivations is always in the public interest.”
The founder and president of Speech First, Nicole Neily, told Campus Reform in an exclusive interview that “extraordinary violations of constitutional rights are taking place at Iowa State.” She added that the purpose of the preliminary injunction would be to “stop violating everyone’s First Amendment rights while the litigation goes on.”
Moreover, Neily recognized that in light of the Iowa caucuses, such constitutional infringement causes bi-partisan harm.
As of yet, there is not a set date for the preliminary injunction hearing.
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