Campus Reform | VICTORY: Chemeketa Community College removes its 'unconstitutional' speech zones

VICTORY: Chemeketa Community College removes its 'unconstitutional' speech zones

In 2020, Chemeketa Community College in Salem, Oregon was taken to court by some of its own students who were a part of a pro-life group on campus.

The students argued that their inability to promote an event for their group on campus was directly tied to the college’s "unconstitutional" speech zones.

The Alliance Defending Freedom provided assistance to these students in their court case, which recently resulted in the school agreeing to remove the zones.

In May 2020, the Students for Life chapter at Oregon’s Chemeketa Community College challenged its school’s speech rules by taking the school to court. After a long-fought battle with the help of Alliance Defending Freedom, the school agreed to revoke its "unconstitutional" speech rules, allowing students to speak and promote events freely on campus, without restrictions.

The school was also forced to pay more than $20,000 in attorneys’ fees for, in the words of ADF, “restricting speech and violating students’ constitutional rights.”

Previously, Chemeketa had restricted students’ “outdoor” speech to two small areas, covering less than two percent of its 100-acre campus. It also required students to obtain permission to speak in these areas two weeks in advance. 

ADF asserted that these restrictions posed a clear violation of the First Amendment.

[RELATED: University of Texas eliminates free speech zones...and leftist students are not happy]

“Today’s college students are our future legislators, judges, and voters. That’s why it’s so important that public colleges model the First Amendment values they’re supposed to be teaching students,” ADF Senior Counsel Tyson Langhofer said.

“Pro-life students—like all students—have the freedom to share messages of hope and healing anywhere on campus, and without first asking college administrators for permission to speak.”

In light of the settlement, ADF attorneys voluntarily dismissed the case, months after it was first filed. 

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