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Banned from Handing Out Constitutions on Constitution Day

Posted By Andrew Kloster On October 13, 2013 @ 8:00 am In First Principles,Front Page,Legal | Comments Disabled

On Constitution Day this year, Robert Van Tuinen, an Army veteran and a student at Modesto Junior College (MJC) in California, was trying to pass out copies of the United States Constitution [1] and drum up support for his proposed Young Americans for Liberty chapter on campus. School administrators at MJC didn’t like this and decided to shut him down [2] in spite of the fact that MJC is a public university that must comply with the First Amendment.

Luckily, Van Tuinen caught the entire episode on tape.

In the video, school officials make a variety of vague justifications for shutting down his protected speech, including this gem:

School security: Who you are representing today is The Heritage Foundation.

Van Tuinen: I’m not representing The Heritage Foundation. They simply made the [pocket] Constitutions, which [are] the highest law of the land, that I am passing out.

Van Tuinen filed suit yesterday [3] in federal court, alleging violations of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Van Tuinen has some First Amendment heavyweights in his corner, including the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education [2], and the case appears to be a slam dunk. It is well-settled law that students don’t give up their First Amendment rights as soon as they enroll. Other, similar “free speech zones” have been struck down by federal courts [4] before.

Cases such as these should not ever have to get to court; school administrators should know to respect the First Amendment. But as commissioner Abigail Thenstrom of the United States Commission on Civil Rights has said before, universities are “island[s] of repression in a sea of freedom.”

Today, we might say the same thing about our National Parks [5]. Citizens have a right to speak their minds in traditional public fora, something World War II veterans and Robert Van Tuinen know.

Take a minute to educate yourself on the First Amendment over at the Heritage Guide to the Constitution [6].

Article printed from The Foundry: Conservative Policy News from The Heritage Foundation: http://blog.heritage.org

URL to article: http://blog.heritage.org/2013/10/13/banned-from-handing-out-constitutions-on-constitution-day/

URLs in this post:

[1] copies of the United States Constitution: http://www.askheritage.org/pocket-constitution/

[2] decided to shut him down: http://thefire.org/article/16327.html

[3] filed suit yesterday: http://thefire.org/article/16329.html

[4] struck down by federal courts: http://thefire.org/public/pdfs/7d8ffca326aa1eabf802cb3f388def9c.pdf?direct

[5] our National Parks: http://www.heritage.org/events/2013/10/monuments

[6] Heritage Guide to the Constitution: http://www.heritage.org/constitution

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