Fed up: North Carolina State University students sue to uphold their free speech rights

Friday, June 10, 2016 by

(Freedom.news) Increasingly, students on America’s far-Left college campuses are fighting back against authoritarian politically correct speech policies that deprive them of their First Amendment rights.

As reported by The Daily Signal, a student-led Christian group has filed suit against North Carolina State University for allegedly restricting their free speech rights by demanding they first obtain a speech permit.

At a federal court hearing last week, Tyson Langhofer, senior counsel at the Alliance Defending Freedom, represented Grace Christian Life, a non-denominational Christian church that organizes services and fellowship activities for students at the university.

Hannalee Alrutz, president of the group and a senior at the school, told The Daily Signal, “I have witnessed other student groups on campus engaging in conversation freely and not being stopped.”

“Because college campuses are a marketplace of ideas, every student from every belief system and standing should have the right to freely express their ideas,” Alrutz said. “The policy kills our speech. It puts a lot of fear in us so that when we desire to talk to somebody on campus, like a fellow student, there is always, in the back of our mind, a worry that we may be stopped or punished because the policy allows for that.”

The Daily Signal reported further:

Like many groups and clubs across college campuses nationwide, Grace Christian Life used the student union as a place to tell their peers about Grace Christian Life’s mission and to “invite them to attend Grace Christian Life events.”

In order to make students aware of their activities, Grace Christian Life needed to apply for a permit to set up a table and were told that “without a permit, they must stop approaching other students in the Talley Student Union to engage in religious discussions with them,” according to a…press release by ADF.

“The only permit required for free speech on a public university campus is the First Amendment,” Langhofer said in a statement, adding that the permits are “unconstitutional restrictions on the free speech of students.”

Despite what they see as the questionable legality of the university’s permit policy, Grace Christian Life members nevertheless applied for and obtained a permit that allowed them to “speak with other students from behind the table or anywhere in the room.” But when they stepped out from behind the table, they were informed by a member of the Student Involvement Office they must return.

The controversy ensued, however, when Student Involvement members did not confront other student groups who were engaging in conversation and “handing out literature either without a permit or outside of the area reserved by their table permit,” often in full view of them, according to ADF.

“I believe that the court’s questions today made it very clear that [the judge] did not believe that the lawsuit was frivolous at all and that there were legitimate and appropriate constitutional concerns with the [university’s speech permit] policy,” Langhofer said after the hearing.

“The judge expressed grave concerns with the breadth of NC State’s policy. He questioned NC State’s policy at length about why the university felt the students need a permit to talk with one another in the student union.”

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