Tarrant County College denying free speech to students, faces law suit it has no chance of winning..
Posted by iusbvision on January 21, 2010
Stories like this don’t amaze me because it seems that every other week something like this is happening. What does amaze is that allegedly highly educated faculty and administrators at universities, the latter often paid six figures to exercise good judgement, just can’t seem to bring themselves to obey federal law and the Constitution of the United States.
FORT WORTH, Texas, November 5, 2009—Tarrant County College (TCC) students Clayton Smith and John Schwertz filed suit in federal district court late Tuesday against TCC. The students are seeking a temporary restraining order to prevent TCC from quarantining protected speech to the school’s tiny “free speech zone” when they participate in a national “empty holster” protest coordinated by Students for Concealed Carry on Campus (SCCC) that is scheduled for November 9-13. TCC has prohibited students from participating in identical symbolic protests twice in the past two years. The suit was filed by Fort Worth attorney Karin Cagle in cooperation with the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) and the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) of Texas.
“For far too long, Tarrant County College has flouted the First Amendment and prevented its students from engaging in core political speech on campus anywhere outside of its so-called free speech zone,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff said. “By restricting campus speech to this tiny ‘free speech zone,’ TCC has stifled students and ignored its legal obligation to ensure that speech remains free on campus. After failing to heed repeated warnings from FIRE, TCC now must answer for its brazen disregard for the Constitution in federal court.”
The suit, filed in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas, Fort Worth Division, asks the court to ensure that Smith and Schwertz are allowed to fully participate in the upcoming protests. As members of SCCC, a national organization that “supports the legalization of concealed carry by licensed individuals on college campuses,” Schwertz and Smith seek to distribute flyers in public areas on TCC’s campus and to wear empty holsters. The empty holsters would signify opposition to state laws and school policies denying concealed handgun license holders the right to carry concealed handguns on college campuses. The suit also asks the court to enjoin TCC’s requirement that students wishing to use the free speech zone submit a form requesting permission at least 24 hours in advance of the planned expressive activity.
Of course, after jumping through all of TCC’s illegal hoops and paperwork, they were still denied anyways.
FIRE wrote to President Thomas on April 24, 2008, explaining that TCC’s free speech zone represented a serious threat to liberty on campus and that FIRE has defeated similar free speech zones on campuses across the nation, including the University of North Carolina at Greensboro, West Virginia University, University of Nevada at Reno, Citrus College in California, and Texas Tech University. A TCC administrator responded on May 20, 2008, informing FIRE that the university would not reverse its decision. Poulos’ protest did not take place.