HUNTSVILLE, Ala. (WAFF) — The lawsuit of a University of Alabama at Huntsville (UAH) student advanced Friday in the Alabama Supreme Court.
In July 2021, student Joshua Greer filed a lawsuit against UAH challenging a campus policy on free speech. The lawsuit claims that the university requires students to apply for permits in advance for free speech events, it also claims that the university only allows free speech in “free speech zones”. ‘expression”.
Greer’s attorney, Gregg Walters of the Alliance Defending Freedom, believes the policy is in direct violation of the Alabama campus free speech law.
The Alabama Campus Free Speech Act, passed in 2019, required public universities to develop and adopt policies protecting free speech on campus.
“Students on campus shouldn’t have to ask permission to speak freely on campus,” Walters said. “The Alabama Legislature overwhelmingly passed a law called the Campus Free Speech Act that purports outdoor spaces on campus to act as public forums for students and faculty.”
In February 2022, Madison County Circuit Judge Alison Austin dismissed the lawsuit. In Judge Austin’s order, she wrote that the campus policy does in fact comply with the Alabama campus free speech law.
On Friday, the Alabama Supreme Court judge unanimously disagreed with Justice Austin’s opinion and reversed it.
In their view, the judges agreed with Greer’s claims and wrote that the school’s so-called “free speech zones” limit free speech. Associate Justice Jay Mitchel wrote in the opinion that speech zones are used to “limit expression rather than facilitate it.”
Court documents show court members questioning whether the policy violates a law authorizing the University of Alabama Board of Trustees to govern its universities.
Walters said no matter what, the court should favor those who seek more freedoms.
“There is nothing free in these free speech zones,” he said.
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