Last semester Kevin Shaw had his free speech rights violated by Peirce College in California. Was he alt-right, a MAGA protestor, or what? What kind of white supremacist are we dealing with here? Shaw was passing out Spanish-language copies of the United States Constitution. There were two problems with that – he did so without a permit, and outside the free speech zone.
Everyone knows that James Madison only wanted speech protected inside tiny zones placed behind stadium parking lots, past the old junkyard, beyond the red-light district. That’s where you can pass out this sort of counter-culture trash. Well, that is what college administrators want:
“He told Shaw that he needed to move to the campus free speech zone. Before he did so, the administrator said, he would need a permit. If Shaw didn’t comply, he was told, he’d be asked to leave the Woodland Hills campus.
Shaw later discovered the tiny so-called free speech zone: 616 square feet — or the equivalent of about three parking spaces — on the college’s sprawling 426-acre campus. He also learned that, even in the zone, he was allowed to distribute literature only between 9 a.m. and 7:30 p.m. on weekdays.”
A Violation of Rights
Shaw sued, as he should, but the big news is who is weighing in on his case. This past week the Department of Justice filed a brief supporting Shaw and put forth a robust defense of free speech and demanding rights guaranteed under the First Amendment be respected:
“Free speech has come under attack on campuses across the country. Such failure is of grave concern because freedom of expression is ‘vital’ on campuses.”
This is a most welcome sea change from the Obama/Holder Justice Department, whose deafening silence emboldened censors. How did we get to Pierce College or Professor Melissa Click asking for “muscle” to beat down a student journalist? Well, a near decade of support for such policies, or tacit approval by inaction is a good start.
More Than Ever
Now that the ACLU seems to have abandoned its principled defense of free speech, we need that support from federal authorities more than ever. Demanding state governments and their agencies, like colleges and universities, respect the free speech rights of all people is both necessary and proper for the Justice Department.
Obama and Holder used the DOJ to advance their political interests, divert victim funds to favored political allies, and foment racial unrest and division. Donald Trump and Jeff Sessions have shown a reverence for free speech with this action, along with a willingness to do something about it. A willingness the republic desperately needs, and one for which we depend on the federal government to do.