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L.A. College & professor who called a student a “Fascist Bastard” and punished him for expressing his Christian faith lose first court battle.

Posted by iusbvision on July 15, 2009

Justice is indeed satisfying and no more so than in the suit against L.A. City College.

Via the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (thefire.org):

“Ask God What Your Judgment Is:” Another Speech Code Topples in Court

July 15, 2009

The Los Angeles Community College District (LACCD) didn’t have to “ask God” to discover that it came out on the wrong side of a hearing in which U.S. District Judge George H. King temporarily enjoined the district from enforcing a harassment policy that banned “offensive” speech on campusa policy so problematic that the judge has ordered it to be taken down from the district’s websites while the legal process continues. LACCD’s speech code came in for legal scrutiny after one of its students, Jonathan Lopez, was told to “ask God what your grade is” by Professor John Matteson after Lopez gave a speechin a speech classabout his Christian faith. (For good measure, Matteson also allegedly called Lopez a “fascist bastard.”)

Alliance Defense Fund:

Court puts brakes on oppressive speech code at L.A. City College

Court grants motion in favor of student called ‘fascist bastard’ by professor for Christian beliefs
Tuesday, July 14, 2009

LOS ANGELES — A federal court Monday granted a motion filed by attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund Center for Academic Freedom to halt enforcement of a Los Angeles City College District policy that violates student free speech rights. The court’s order, which halts the policy while a student’s lawsuit against the district moves forward, also requires the removal of all of the policy’s language on district Web sites because the court determined that ADF attorneys are likely to succeed in their argument that the policy is unconstitutional.

“Christian students shouldn’t be penalized for expressing their beliefs at a public college,” said ADF Senior Counsel David French, director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. “We are pleased that the court has taken this step to ensure that the First Amendment rights of students are not violated. We will continue to litigate this case to make sure the constitutional rights of our client and other students at the college are protected.”

In February, ADF attorneys filed suit against LACCD officials after a professor censored and threatened to expel student Jonathan Lopez following a speech he gave about his Christian faith during an open-ended assignment in a public speaking class.

On Nov. 24, 2008, professor John Matteson interrupted and ended Lopez’s presentation mid-speech, calling him a “fascist bastard” in front of the class for speaking about his faith, which included reading the dictionary definition of marriage and reciting two Bible verses. Refusing to grade the assigned speech, Matteson wrote on Lopez’s speech evaluation form, “Ask God what your grade is.” One week later, after seeing Lopez talking to the college’s dean of academic affairs, Matteson told Lopez that he would make sure he’d be expelled from school.

The order issued by the U.S. District Court for the Central District of California in Lopez v. Candaele applies to the school’s speech policy that ADF attorneys argued allows similar types of abuses. It requires the college and the district to delete all unconstitutionally overbroad language in the speech policy posted on their Web sites within 14 days.

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