Speech-zone suit costs college $50,000

On Sept. 17, Constitution Day, a Modesto Junior College student was told he couldn’t hand out copies of the Constitution on campus outside the small free-speech zone which already was in use. To settle Robert Van Tuinen’s First Amendment lawsuit, the California college will allow free speech on campus and pay $50,000 to the Army veteran, now a photography student.

Van Tuinen’s  videotaped encounter with a campus police officer drew national media attention. 

Fifty-nine percent of colleges restrict student speech, said  Greg Lukianoff, president of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).

Under the settlement, Modest Junior College students and faculty will not need college permission to express their views in all “areas generally available to students and the community.”

“They were maintaining an unconstitutional speech code, and now any of my fellow students can go out and exercise their right to free speech,” Van Tuinen told Fox News.