Bunker Hill Community College, a school that infamously banned a Navy veteran from handing out copies of the Constitution on campus, is changing its free speech policy and encouraging surrounding schools to do the same.
The change in policy was spurred by a letter, written by the Massachusetts chapter of Young Americans for Liberty in partnership with the Alliance Defending Freedom and the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which dubbed the incident as the “Battle at Bunker Hill for Free Speech.”
“YAL members handed out free copies of the United States Constitution on campus in an open outdoor area were there was no impediment to the free flow of traffic,” the letter stated. “After a brief time, the students were approached by campus police, ordered to stop, and informed they were violating BHCC policy because they did not have permission to pass out literature. The officers took their identification information and notified them they were being reported for violations of the student code of conduct.”
After ADF and FIRE sent the letter, “the college responded in agreement, saying that it “should not have directed members of Young Americans for Liberty to stop distributing copies of the U.S. Constitution in an open, outdoor area on campus.”
Furthermore, officials agreed to ensure that “there is no blanket ban on student rights to distribute materials on campus or to engage in spontaneous speech absent pre-approval.”
According to a press release issued Monday, “Bunker Hill Community College has eliminated its unconstitutional restrictions on free speech that prevented Navy veteran Jeff Lyons from passing out copies of the U.S. Constitution. Additionally, the Massachusetts Community College System, which includes Bunker Hill, has agreed to review similar problematic policies at 6 of its other campuses.”
Young Americans for Liberty is not a stranger to legal disputes over campus free speech issues. They are conducting a nationwide campaign to overturn unconstitutional free speech laws on campus and recently sued University of California, Berkeley.
“This was the modern battle at Bunker Hill where a Navy veteran was told he needed permission to hand out copies of the very document he risked his life for,” said YAL President Cliff Maloney. “Free Speech does not require a permit and we applaud Bunker Hill Community College for changing their unconstitutional speech policies.”
The student group’s legal counsel agrees.
“Students at a public college shouldn’t have to ask for a government permission slip to exercise their most basic First Amendment freedoms,” said FIRE Director of Litigation Marieke Tuthill Beck-Coon. “That’s why we’re pleased that Bunker Hill has acted to respect the First Amendment by changing the speech policy and allowing students to hand out copies of the Constitution freely.”
“A college campus should be a marketplace of ideas where students can peacefully express their views without fear of punishment,” said ADF Legal Counsel Caleb Dalton added.
Peter Van Voorhis (@RepublicanPeter) is a conservative activist, commentator, and journalist who focuses on political issues affecting millennials.