Do you remember last year when 2 Kellogg Community College (KCC) students and 3 students from different colleges where attempting to pass out pocket-size Constitutions on the KCC campus.  They were also attempting to recruit students to join the Young Americans for Liberty group.

Kellogg Community College administrators told them they were violating a school sollicitation policy.

According to an article from the Michigan Capital Confidential news site the Alliance Defending Freedom, a legal foundation that advocates for freedom of speech and religion, is representing the KCC students and the Young Americans for Liberty.

The Kellogg Community College trustees, President Mark O’Connell, Chief of Public Safety Harold West, and Drew Hutchinson, manager of student life, are listed as defendants in the lawsuit, among others.

According to the Michigan Capitol Confidential article:

In a video posted by the student publication Campus Reform, Hutchinson told the activists they needed to leave and that approaching other students and talking to them could “obstruct their ability to get an education.” According to a press release from the alliance, the group was not blocking any building entrances or walkways.

If you click on following hot-link to see the full video.

You are not going to believe this but the taxpayer funded KCC (KCC received $9,950,100 from state appropriations in 2015-16 and is slated to receive $10,087,500 in 2016-17) actually has a speech permit policy that only allows you free speech if they give you permission.  KCC’s “Speech Permit Policy” states that the “[u]se of the College grounds by an individual or organization for solicitation is permitted only if the solicitation has been approved by Student Life.”

KCC’s director of public information and marketing Eric Greene was quoted in the article stating:

Kellogg Community College learned this week that an organization, the Alliance Defending Freedom, has announced it is filing a federal complaint against the College regarding a trespassing incident which occurred in September 2016.  The complaint itself has yet to be delivered to KCC; therefore, the details of the complaint have yet to be reviewed by legal counsel. The College, which supports the U.S. Constitution and takes seriously any allegation that one’s freedom of expression has been violated, will address this matter thoroughly.

The deputy legal director for ACLU of Michigan Dan Korobkin, said KCC’s policy is unconstitutional and was also quoted in the article stating:

The college campus has long been an important hub for the exchange of ideas, and it is where some of our country’s most important movements for social change have flourished. A public college cannot prohibit its students from handing out pocket Constitutions on a campus sidewalk. If it could, those pocket Constitutions wouldn't be worth reading.

I cannot believe it but I am agreeing with the ACLU, why a publicly funded institution would believe that they can hinder free speech, especially when it comes to the Constitution I do not know.  Could or do they hinder the speech of a professor?  I have spoken many times about professors talking about issues in their college classroom that has nothing do to with the course they are teaching.  Does the college of university attempt to stop them from speaking their minds?

A lawyer from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education Ari Cohn, was quoted in the article stating:

The policies at issue in this case are breathtakingly broad and appear to prohibit students from engaging in any expressive activity on campus without the permission of college administrators, and that kind of prior restraint is manifestly unconstitutional.

I understand the concept of yelling fire in a crowded room when there is not a fire but limiting free speech has to be taken into context and treated with the utmost care.  If we lose free speech we will eventually lose most of our rights.

I would think that editorial boards across the land would come rally behind the students and we should expect to see many editorial pieces written by the papers condemning what KCC did.

Do you think we will see the papers advocating for the students free speech?  Do not hold your breath.

Written by Renk

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