Department of Justice Files Statement of Interest in Defense of Campus Free Speech
The Department of Justice today filed a Statement of Interest in Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski.
The lawsuit was filed by students at Georgia Gwinnett College to challenge a school policy that limited student expressive activity to two small “free-speech zones” that totaled 0.0015% of the campus. Additionally, these students were required to obtain prior authorization from campus officials, to limit their expressive activity to a specified date and time, and to comply with the Student Code of Conduct’s prohibition of speech that “disturbs the…comfort of person(s).
The Justice Department primarily argues that the plaintiffs’ allegations have adequately represented violations of their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. The Justice Department argues the college’s speech policies were not content-neutral, established an impermissible heckler’s veto, and were not narrowly tailored to achieve a compelling government interest.
In filing the Statement of Interest, Attorney General Jeff Sessions provided the following statement:
“A national recommitment to free speech on campus and to ensuring First Amendment rights is long overdue. Which is why, starting today, the Department of Justice will do its part in this struggle. We will enforce federal law, defend free speech, and protect students’ free expression.”