Court Rules Against North Carolina State University Policy of ‘Free Speech Permits’

AP Photo/Valentina Petrova
AP Photo/Valentina Petrova

A federal judge has ruled against a policy in which students at North Carolina State University must obtain a permit before expressing themselves as a violation of the First Amendment.

On hearing a lawsuit filed by the Alliance Defending Freedom against the policy, Chief U.S. District Judge James C. Dever III ruled by issuing a preliminary injunction on its continuation.

The case was filed by the Alliance Defending Freedom on behalf of Grace Christian Life, who were prevented from preaching religious doctrine on campus.

In September 2015, the group were told that should they wish to operate on campus, they would need to have an approved ‘speech permit’ beforehand.

The president of the group, Hannalee Alrutz, told The Daily Signal, “This policy kills our speech. It puts a lot of fear in us so that when we desire to talk to somebody on campus, like a fellow student, there is always, in the back of our mind, a worry that we may be stopped or punished.”

Grace Christian Life also suggested the policy was applied solely as a means of controlling dissident conservative voices, with other groups reportedly promoting freely without harassment from university administrators.

However, NCSU has suggested it will not appeal the decision, saying in a statement that it “appreciates the court’s review of this matter, and we will follow the court’s preliminary ruling.”

“The university remains an environment that fosters and enables the healthy and free exchange of ideas and viewpoints by our students and academic community,” the statement reads.

The ruling comes after the state of Arizona outlawed the restriction of free speech on campus, alongside legislation proposed in Tennessee that leaves universities powerless to punish students on the grounds of freedom of expression.

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