Ruling vindicates LA student who sued college for curbing his freedom of speech

Pierce College student, Kevin Shaw, 27, won his lawsuit against the Los Angeles Community College District, after he was excluded from the passing of copies of the Constitution because he is not in the designated “free speech zone” on campus.

((Photo courtesy of Dawn Bowery/FIRE))

The Los Angeles college student who sued his school after they restrained his free speech right to distribute copies of the Constitution was confirmed in a California court this week after a judge ruled that he was well within the limits of the First Amendment.

Pierce College student Kevin Shaw, 27, filed a lawsuit in March against the Los Angeles Community College District, after he was excluded from the passing of copies of the historic document because he is not within the school’s designated “free speech zone”) — a very small package about the size of three parking spaces. Officials for the school to maintain that the tiny space was constitutional.

But the court rejected that argument and said that the open space of the public schools, such as Pierce traditional public forums, regardless of the school system of the regulations.

Shaw said that he was excited about the decision. “I feel vindicated,” he told Fox News. “I had faith in the courts, but the process was long. I began to think about what the outcome might be.”

“We do not comment on ongoing litigation,” Yusef Robb, spokesman of the Los Angeles Community College District said in a statement to Fox News. “We are fully committed to free expression on our campuses. If a community college district, promote the free exchange of ideas and knowledge is the core of what we do, every day.”

It was just before the elections in November 2016, when Shaw was trying to distribute Spanish-language copies of the Constitution during a recruitment drive for his student group, a campus chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, on the main quad. A Pierce administrator told him that he could not distribute literature outside of the designated zone.

Shaw says he was also told that he would have to fill out a permit application for the use of the zone, and would be asked to leave campus if he refused to comply.

“When I tried to hand out copies of the Constitution that day, my only intention was to get the students to think about our guiding principles and to inspire discussion of freedom and free speech,” Shaw said in a statement to Fox News last March. “I had no idea that I would be called to defend, the ideals against Pierce unconstitutional campus policy.”

He added, “This fight is about a student the right to take part in the free thinking and debate while attending a college in America.”

Shaw said that since the lawsuit was filed, he has refrained from handing out copies of the Constitution, but was in support of his group’s chapter in a different way. He also said that the original incident inspired him to pursue a political office. He is currently a campaign for the local council in the 38th District of Los Angeles County, while attending Pierce.

“This lawsuit I got more interested in protecting the rights of people,” he said. “So I decided to run for the office.”

Elections will be held next June.

Perry Chiaramonte is a reporter for Follow him on Twitter via @perrych

Follow us

Don't be shy, get in touch. We love meeting interesting people and making new friends.

Most popular