Student group sues college in Michigan over speech policy

Posted at 9:20 PM, Jul 06, 2017
and last updated 2017-07-06 21:20:38-04

CLINTON TOWNSHIP, Mich. (AP) — A conservative student group at a community college in southeastern Michigan has sued the school, saying its policy of requiring permission for public speech violates members’ First Amendment rights.

Attorneys representing Turning Point USA say the organization’s Macomb Community College chapter is challenging the school’s expressive-activity policy in a federal lawsuit filed Wednesday in U.S. District Court in Detroit.

The organization, which has college chapters across the country, trains students to “promote the principles of freedom, free markets and limited government,” according to the officials at the nonprofit.

The lawsuit follows an April incident in which chapter members, including one in a dinosaur costume, said college police told them they couldn’t speak with other students, pass out literature or collect signatures on campus because they didn’t have administrators’ approval.

Three Turning Point USA members were in an open area of campus raising awareness about the value fossil fuels provide to society, group officials said.

“Of all places, public colleges are supposed to be budding laboratories for democracy,” Caleb Dalton, an Alliance Defending Freedom attorney, said in a statement. “Administrators should encourage, not stifle, free expression.”

College spokeswoman Jeanne Nichol said in an email that the college hasn’t been served with a lawsuit and hasn’t had the opportunity to review it. She noted that the school doesn’t comment on pending litigation.