Court denies A-State's request to dismiss free speech lawsuit

(Soure: KAIT)
(Soure: KAIT)
Published: Mar. 8, 2018 at 7:55 PM CST|Updated: Mar. 23, 2018 at 2:54 PM CDT
Email This Link
Share on Pinterest
Share on LinkedIn

JONESBORO, AR (KAIT) - The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas has denied Arkansas State University's request to have a freedom of speech lawsuit dismissed.

Arkansas State University asked a judge to dismiss the suit earlier in March.

In a release Friday the Eastern District of Arkansas wrote, "The university's freedom of expression policy requires Hoggard to seek and receive the university's permission before she is allowed to exercise first amendment freedoms on campus. The policy is a prior restraint on her first amendment rights, as interpreted by the Supreme Court, against which there is a 'heavy presumption' of unconstitutionality."

To see the full Turning Point USA release, click here.

In a lawsuit filed in December, a student group claimed Arkansas State violated its rights by limiting free speech on the campus.

The lawsuit stems from an incident in October 2017 when Ashlyn Hoggard with the group Turning Point USA attempted to speak with students on the Jonesboro campus in an effort for Turning Point USA to become a registered student organization.

School officials, Hoggard claimed, prevented her from doing so and issued a warning for criminal trespass.

Hoggard and Turning Point USA then filed a lawsuit.

On March 8, Arkansas State University filed a response to the lawsuit in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Arkansas.

"They ignore--and mistake--the contents of ASU's Freedom of Expression Policy," the response stated.

In the response, ASU said this case is similar to a 2006 case titled Bowman v. White. That case upheld the constitutionality of substantively identical policy provisions of the University of Arkansas at Fayetteville.

"The only requirement for an individual to use the Freedom of Expression Areas is to schedule use of the area through the Director of Student Development and Leadership to ensure the particular areas is not already booked or in use," the response stated. "There are no other requirements. A simple email or phone call is all it takes."

ASU, citing the Bowman case, said the response that "at all relevant times, it was clearly established that a public university in Arkansas can maintain a policy that requires permission, 72-hours notice, and allows for content-neutral discretion for use of campus space for freedom of expression purposes."

Lawyers for ASU said the lawsuit has no merit and that the plaintiffs "are attempting to create issues where there are none."

Because of that, ASU asked the court to dismiss the complaint with prejudice.

Copyright 2018 KAIT. All rights reserved.