Conservative college students in California, who filed a lawsuit against their school’s leaders for alleged discrimination over censorship of anti-Communist leaflets, scored a “major victory” when a judge issued a restraining order, according to an attorney representing the case.
“The injunction is good news for the plaintiffs (our clients) because it means that while the case is pending, Clovis cannot enforce its ban on using inappropriate or offensive language towards student flyers,” said Jeff Zeman, a foundation for individuals The Rights and Expression Attorney (FIRE) told The College Fix for a Tuesday article.
“This is a major win for the plaintiffs. … We have also asked that the court issue a permanent restraining order at the end of the case,” Zeman added.
FIRE filed a lawsuit earlier this year on behalf of three Clovis Community College students who are also members of the school’s Young Americans for Freedom chapter after they allegedly faced discrimination when the school allowed the removal of flyers promoting Freedom Week decreed in November 2021. Freedom Week is an event created by Young America’s Foundation that opposes socialism and promotes conservative ideology, according to the YAF website.
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The lawsuit, which was previously reviewed by Fox News Digital, says the three plaintiffs obtained approval last November to post anti-communist and anti-socialist leaflets on bulletin boards in campus buildings. However, according to the complaint, at the direction of Clovis President Dr. Mined Lori Bennett.
U.S. District Judge Jennifer Thurston last month issued an injunction prohibiting Clovis community leaders from preventing students from handing out flyers about “inappropriate or [offensive] language or themes.”
“The court ruled that the defendants’ ban on ‘inappropriate’ or ‘offensive’ speech was unconstitutionally vague and excessive, and the defendants have now overturned that policy. This is a huge win not only for Alejandro, Juliette and Daniel, but for all Clovis students. The case is ongoing, but it’s a good first step in defending our clients’ First Amendment rights,” Zeman added to Fox News Digital on Tuesday.
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“A surprising number of students came up to me and said they heard about what was going on,” Juliette Colunga, a plaintiff in the case and president of the Clovis Community College chapter of Young Americans for Freedom, told The College Fix. “Even some liberal students who are initially skeptical about our story are later shocked to hear how the school treats freedom of speech once they learn all the facts of the story.”
Emails received by FIRE as part of a public record earlier this year show that an administrator at the college offered to “take down” flyers posted by members of the Young Americans for Freedom chapter. The emails show administrators knew the YAF chapter was an “official club on campus,” but noted that “several people” were “very uncomfortable” with the flyers, including one person who allegedly threatened a “harassment lawsuit” if the posters hadn’t been torn down.
“Left-wing ideas: ‘progress’ that always leads to death,” says one of the flyers in question. The poster showed the burial of skulls and bones, accompanied by data on how many people were killed in countries that launched “progressive social movements”.
The lawsuit also addressed an issue in December 2021, when students said they were denied permission by the dean of student unions to post pro-life flyers on bulletin boards in campus buildings. They were told they could post them at a “hands-free kiosk” instead. The lawsuit states the kiosk is “a small box covered in rotting wooden planks that sits at the edge of a sidewalk that students almost never use because it doesn’t lead to building entrances or parking lots.”
Among the defendants in the lawsuit are Lori Bennett, president of Clovis Community College, Marco De La Garza, vice president of student services, Gurdeep Sihota Hebert, dean of student services, and Patrick Stumpf, senior student services program specialist.
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“The judge’s ruling on the restraining order is absolutely a big step in the right direction for us, but the fight is far from over. We will keep standing up and fighting for our freedom of speech,” Colunga added in a comment to The College Fix.
Fox News Digital reached out to Clovis Community College for comment, but didn’t immediately receive a response.