Monday, March 28, 2022

11th Circuit Rejects Preacher's Challenge To Campus Permit Requirement

In Keister v. Bell, (11th Cir., March 25, 2022), the U.S. 11th Circuit Court of Appeals rejected a challenge to the University of Alabama's policy that requires a permit in order for a speaker to participate in expressive conduct on University grounds, with an exception for “casual recreational or social activities.” The challenge was brought by a traveling evangelical preacher who, with a friend, set up a banner, passed out religious literature and preached through a megaphone on a campus sidewalk. The court concluded that the sidewalk was a limited public forum, even if it was technically owned by the city rather than the University. Thus the University could impose reasonable, viewpoint neutral restrictions. It also concluded that the exception for "casual ... activities" was not unconstitutionally vague and that the University's advance notice requirement was constitutional.