The Alabama Supreme Court ruled unanimously Friday to allow a free speech lawsuit to proceed by a Young Americans for Liberty chapter and student-member Joshua Greer against the University of Alabama in Huntsville (UAH).
Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorneys, who represent the campus group, filed an appeal in February with the state's high court after a lower court dismissed the campus free-speech case.
The Young Americans for Liberty chapter is challenging the university's policy that limits most student speech to small "speech zones" and requires students to obtain a permit three business days in advance to speak on campus about most topics—both in violation of the Alabama Campus Free Speech Act and the Alabama Constitution, according to an ADF statement.
"College students have the freedom to share their beliefs anywhere on campus; they don't need permission from college officials to speak, nor should they have to jump through burdensome and illegal hoops just to talk with their classmates outside," said ADF Senior Counsel and Vice President of Appellate Advocacy John Bursch in a statement. "We're pleased the Alabama Supreme Court has affirmed the freedom of all college students to speak freely on campus without being restricted to small speech zones. The university never should have attempted to skirt the explicit provisions of state law that reinforce these rights."
In their opinion reversing and remanding a lower court's dismissal of ADF's lawsuit, the Supreme Court found that UAH "have not shown that, on the face of the policy, limiting protected speech is not the primary function of the designated areas."
The Court heard arguments back in September.
Part of the ADF's effort came with an assist from the Alabama Center for Law and Liberty (ACLL), which helped to gather amicus support.
Chief Justice Tom Parker applauded the ACLL for "seeking to focus attention on the Alabama Constitution." He urged future parties and amici to follow the organization's lead in his concurrence.
"We are incredibly honored by Chief Justice Parker's approval of our work," ACLL president Matt Clark said in a statement. "The Alabama Center for Law and Liberty strives to provide the courts with resources that not only defend the rule of law and individual liberties but also help the courts solve the cases before them. We have strived to be such an asset to our judges, and we are very encouraged that Chief Justice Parker was pleased with our work."
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