Lawsuit begins after this college tore down anti-communist posters

A California court heard oral arguments against the college last Friday in a First Amendment case filed after campus administrators removed Young Americans for Freedom’s anti-communist posters.

The flyers detailed the consequences of socialist regimes by highlighting death tolls and limited groceries.

The California Eastern District Court heard oral arguments against Clovis Community College (CCC) last Friday in a First Amendment case filed after college administrators tore down anti-communist flyers.

CCC is located in Fresno, California.

The lawsuit was filed on August 11 by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) on behalf of the Young Americans for Freedom chapter. 

"In an ironic twist, Clovis cracked down on our plaintiffs' anti-authoritarian posters,” FIRE attorney Gabe Walters told Campus Reform in a prepared statement. “We hope the court will vindicate the students' free speech rights and condemn Clovis' determination to suppress them."

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

The plaintiffs’ sought a preliminary injunction to block the CCC administration from enforcing the alleged unconstitutional flyer policy while the case is under consideration. The defense filed a motion to dismiss the case.

“The flyer policy says that flyers that… contain offensive or inappropriate language or themes are prohibited on the bulletin boards of the campus,” Walters told Campus Reform

FIRE will have until Sept. 29 to file an opposition to the motion to dismiss. The plaintiffs’ will seek a permanent injunction as well as “compensatory and punitive damages,” Walters explained.

“No reasonable college official under these circumstances would have prevented these political flyers from going up on a student bulletin board,” he said.

The lawsuit was filed against CCC President Lori Bennett after she gave the order to remove the flyers last November, emails obtained through FIRE’s public records request showed.

Bennet justified removing the flyers on the basis that they were not club announcements and claimed they had been mistakenly approved, the emails show. 

[RELATED: 1A lawyers brief students on free speech rights ahead of the fall semester]

FIRE, however, alleged that there is no campus policy requiring flyers to be announcements. 

The flyers detailed the consequences of socialist regimes by highlighting death tolls and limited groceries.

“Do we really want government acting as the ‘provider,’ when it already has been proven government can’t even provide the basics,” one flyer asked.

Walters told Campus Reform that FIRE is “optimistic” about the plaintiffs’ claims.

“We’re proud to stand behind those claims. We think that the flyer policy is facially unconstitutional,” he said. “The state has no power to ban speech on the basis that it causes effects.”

Campus Reform contacted the chapter, Clovis Community College and Bennett for comment. This article will be updated accordingly.

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