Woman yelling into a bullhorn on an urban street voicing her displaeasure during a protest or demonstration, close up side view of her face

A lawsuit against an American college campus has been settled, ensuring students are allowed full access to their First Amendment rights .

Last year, Nicole Sanders and a friend stood in front of Blinn College’s student center to recruit like-minded peers to join their Young Americans for Liberty club. They both held signs: one read “LOL,” with the middle letter replaced with President Obama’s signature “O” logo. The other sign read, “Defend Gun Rights on Campus.”

The two students were eventually approached by an administrator flanked by three armed campus officers and were told they needed “special permission” to hold their signs and ask for recruits. Sanders rightfully concluded that her First Amendment rights were being violated and sought clarification from another administrator. She soon learned there were other policies that completely ignored free speech rights covered under the Constitution.

Besides needing approval a month in advance to conduct an “expressive activity,” there was also a policy that required officials to approve the material being presented on campus. So, Sanders filed a First Amendment lawsuit, with help from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), against Blinn that addressed those problems and the college’s so-called “free speech area” — that is, a small concrete slab near a bulletin board in the middle of 62 acres — where students were limited to engage in their First Amendment rights.

Thankfully, the lawsuit was recently settled in Sanders’ favor, securing her $50,000 for damages and attorney’s fees and promised policy revisions. But she sees a greater reward for future students:

“I am happy that Blinn College agreed to make important changes to its student speech policies that not only bring them in line with the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, but also make it less likely that students will have their rights trampled in the future. I truly hope that the legacy of this case will make Blinn a place where free speech rights are both exercised by students and protected by the administration.”

FIRE celebrated the victory as well on behalf of the over 17,000 students that attend Blinn.

“Students should never be confronted by armed police officers and forced through bureaucratic red tape when trying to express themselves on the issues they are passionate about, whether it’s gun rights or gay rights,” FIRE Director of Litigation Catherine Sevcenko said.

I’m happy for the win, too, but also frustrated that the rights that are guaranteed to Americans aren’t already understood as absolute and inalienable. Thank you, FIRE, for being there to remind them.

About The Author

Mark was a co-founder of the Tea Party Patriots, and served as the national coordinator. He left the organization to work more broadly on expanding the self-governance movement beyond the partisan divide. Mark appears regularly on television in outlets as diverse as MSNBC, ABC, NBC, Fox News, CNN, Bloomberg, Fox Business and the BBC. He’s highly sought after for the tea party perspective from print and electronic media outlets, from the Wall Street Journal, New York Times, L.A. Times, Washington Examiner, Politico and the The Hill. Mark blogs at MarkMeckler.com, and his opinion editorials regularly run in many of the leading political newspapers both on and offline. Mark has a BA in English from San Diego State University and graduated with honors from University of the Pacific, McGeorge School of Law in 1988. He practiced real estate and business law for almost a decade. For the last eleven years of his legal career he specialized in Internet advertising law. When not fighting for the future of our nation, Mark is an avid horseman, and lives in rural northern California with his wife Patty and two children.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published.

one × 2 =