U Alabama in Huntsville violates 1A rights, YAL lawsuit says
Young Americans for Liberty alleges that the University of Alabama in Huntsville is actively suppressing speech on campus.
The lawsuit claims that the university’s speech policy, which requires students to seek a permit to speak on campus three days in advance, is in direct violation of Alabama state law.
Young Americans for Liberty is suing the University of Alabama in Huntsville, alleging that UAH is actively suppressing speech on campus and is in violation of Alabama state law.
The lawsuit, filed by the Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of the UAH YAL chapter, claims that the university’s speech policy, which requires students to seek a permit to promote their organization on campus three days in advance, is in direct violation of Alabama’s Campus Free Speech Act.
“Alabama law is clear: students don’t need a permit from college officials to speak on campus, but that’s exactly what the University of Alabama in Huntsville is doing—violating the law and shutting down speech on campus,” stated ADF Legal Counsel Michael Ross in the ADF announcement. “Public universities are the very places that should be encouraging free speech, not stifling it with burdensome and illegal rules.”
Ross told Campus Reform that “The University of Alabama in Huntsville’s burdensome and illegal rules are preventing students from speaking about important cultural and political issues with their peers and shutting down important debate on campus.”
YAL Chief of Staff Sean Themea told Campus Reform that “The Constitution is clear: No one, student or otherwise, should ever need to ask permission to exercise any of their God-given rights.” He continued, “It’s a shame that YAL and ADF need to teach The University of Alabama in Huntsville this lesson through legal action, but we will defend the First Amendment by any means necessary.”
According to ADF, Alabama’s Campus Free Speech act explicitly prohibits “prior permission requirements and other suppressive measures,” such as the ones in place at UAH. They allege that since “permits are subject to the university’s approval, administrators can pick and choose which events and viewpoints are allowed on campus” which illegally prevents “students from engaging in spontaneous expression and from promoting their events.”
The campus’s YAL chapter, for example, has been unable to facilitate discussions on topics such as “gun control” and “federalism.”
Young Americans for Liberty Director of Free Speech, JP Kirby, stated that “Young Americans for Liberty exists to promote the principles of individual liberty, but the University of Alabama in Huntsville’s policies severely restrict our students’ ability to speak freely about these principles on campus.”
Interestingly, this is the second lawsuit that ADF has filed on behalf of YAL against the University of Alabama system this year. In May, YAL sued UA over the school’s Facilities and Ground Use Policy, which YAL alleges infringes on students’ right to free speech.
The policy requires students to receive permission from the administration five business days prior to holding any public event and restricts such events to designated “free speech zones” that make up less than 1% of the UA campus.
Campus Reform reached out to the University of Alabama in Huntsville; this article will be updated accordingly.