U.S. Justice Department officials filed court papers Tuesday saying Georgia Gwinnett College violated the constitutional rights of a student who claims he was told he couldn’t distribute fliers sharing his Christian faith in an open area of the campus.
The Justice Department filed a 26-page “statement of interest” in support of the student, Chike Uzuegbunam, in a federal lawsuit he filed in December against the college.
The college had two free speech zones that totaled 0.0015 percent of the campus, the lawsuit says. Justice Department officials said Uzuegbunam’s First Amendment rights to free speech had been violated.
“A national recommitment to free speech on campus and to ensuring First Amendment rights is long overdue,” Attorney General Jeff Sessions said in a statement. “Which is why, starting today, the Department of Justice will do its part in this struggle. We will enforce federal law, defend free speech, and protect students’ free expression.”
College officials have countered that the student didn’t submit a request to distribute the fliers and he also engaged in disorderly conduct by speaking to students in areas not part of the free speech zones.
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