When Arkansas State University student Ashlyn Hoggard and another individual with Turning Point USA attempted to set up a table outside the student union to generate interest in forming a chapter on campus, an administrator immediately stopped them, citing the university’s speech policy.
That policy unconstitutionally restricts speech activities to small zones on campus that total about one percent of the campus, requires advance permission for students to use the speech zones, and gives university officials free reign to restrict the content and viewpoint of student speech.
Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys filed a lawsuit in December of 2017 on behalf of the organizers of a student organization, Turning Point USA, a non-partisan organization that educates students about the importance of fiscal responsibility, free markets, and limited government.
In the opinion and order denying Arkansas State’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit, Turning Point USA at Arkansas State University v. The Trustees of Arkansas State University, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas wrote, “The university’s freedom of expression policy requires Hoggard to seek and receive the university’s permission before she is allowed to exercise first amendment freedoms on campus. The policy is a prior restraint on her first amendment rights, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, against which there is a ‘heavy presumption’ of unconstitutionality.”
On March 23, 2018, the court rejected the university’s efforts to dismiss the case as moot. Thereafter, the university rescinded its old speech zone policy, but refuses to disclose any details of their new policy. This case is still pending before the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.
Institution: Arkansas State University
Location: Jonesboro, AR
Topic: Speech Zone