UMass Amherst Sued by Student Group for Limiting Free Speech to One Hour Per Day

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The Young Americans for Liberty group at the public University of Massachusetts-Amherst is suing the university over an unusual restriction on their First Amendment rights.

The Young Americans for Liberty at the University of Massachusetts-Amherst have filed a lawsuit against the university to challenge a rule that restricts students in their ability to hold rallies and speeches on campus. The group released a press released on Monday, detailing their suit against the university.

“The policy restricts all ‘speeches and rallies’ to one hour a day between noon and 1 p.m. on less than one percent of campus,” the report reads. “Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys representing YAL contend that the policies create a chilling effect on speech, deterring students from engaging in their First Amendment rights.”

The suit seeks a correction to a section of UMass-Amherst’s land use policy which states that students are only free to use campus grounds for “speeches and rallies” from noon to 1 PM and at the discretion of the administration. The policy also restricts such events to a certain area of campus.

“It is truly inspiring to see students stand up for the ideas of liberty and for the First Amendment on campus,” YAL Director of Free Speech Alexander Staudt said in a comment.  “It’s about time that the hard work of the YAL chapter at UMass Amherst gets noticed and achieve real results that affect all 28,000+ students on campus.”

Alliance Defending Freedom attorney Caleb Dalton blasted the University of Massachusetts-Amherst in a statement, condemning the administration for restricting the student’s speech rights. “A public university is hardly the marketplace of ideas that it’s supposed to be when the marketplace is less than one percent of campus and only open for one hour a day — and then only if university officials approve of your presence there,” Dalton said. “UMass-Amherst’s speech policy contains provisions similar to those that courts have repeatedly struck down as unconstitutional at other schools. If the university wishes to demonstrate its dedication to the free exchange of ideas, it can do so by fixing its policy so that it’s consistent with the First Amendment.”



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