Tuesday, September 17, 2019

Student's Distribution of Religious Valentines On Campus Is Protected Speech

In Olsen v. Rafn, (ED WI, Sept. 13, 2019),a Wisconsin federal district court held that Northeast Wisconsin Technical College's Public Assembly Policy violates the free speech rights of plaintiff, a student at the college. The school contended that Polly Olsen violated its policy by distributing hand-made Valentines with Biblical verses on them to fellow students, friends and staff at various places on campus. The school's policy, both the one in effect at the time of plaintiff's activity and an amended one subsequently adopted, limits assembly and expressive activity to designated Public Assembly Areas. Quoting precedent, the court held that the school's limitations on speech as applied here are an "anathema to the nature of a [college], which is ‘peculiarly the marketplace of ideas'." WBAY News reports on the decision.