In March of 2017, Kevin Shaw filed a lawsuit against Los Angeles Pierce College for violating his freedom of speech. Earlier this year, his lawsuit survived a motion to dismiss.
The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) is assisting with the lawsuit.
Los Angeles Pierce College refused to allow Shaw to hand out the US Constitution on the college campus. Shaw attempted to hand out Spanish-language versions of the Constitution in an attempt to recruit new members to the Young Americans for Liberty conservative student group.
The college told Shaw he could not hand out the documents unless he had a permit and was in the school’s designated “free speech zone.” If he refused to obey they would remove him from the campus.
“When I attempted to hand out copies of the Constitution that day, my only intention was to get students thinking about our founding principles and to inspire discussion of liberty and free speech,” said Shaw.
“I had no idea I would be called upon to defend those very ideals against Pierce’s unconstitutional campus policies,” he continued. “This fight is about a student’s right to engage in free thinking and debate while attending college in America.”
The “free speech zone” on the Pierce College campus is very small. FIRE described it as the same as an iPhone on a tennis court.
Shaw’s lawsuit has attracted the attention of major US government officials, including Attorney General Jeff Sessions.
"Last March a student filed suit against Los Angeles Pierce College, alleging that it prohibited him from distributing copies of the Constitution outside of the designated 'free speech zone,'" Sessions said.
"How big was this free speech zone? 616 square feet,” Sessions continued. “Barely the size of a couple of college dorm rooms. Outside of that space, students did not have freedom of speech. The student sued and we stepped in on his behalf in the case."
Depending on how the lawsuit goes, Pierce College may not just be opening up their campus to Shaw, but their wallets as well.