“This is a huge win for the First Amendment”
Speech First has won a number of cases like this one. It’s very encouraging.
The Texas Tribune reports:
Settlement with conservative free speech group forces University of Houston to keep amended anti-harassment policy
The University of Houston has settled with a conservative free speech group that sued the school over an anti-discrimination policy that the group argued was overly broad and violated students’ First Amendment rights.
As part of the settlement, UH officials will have to pay $30,000 in attorney’s fees to Speech First and UH officials must keep in place its amended anti-discrimination policy.
In this case, Speech First, a group that actively litigates college policies they view as student censorship, targeted UH’s anti-discrimination policy that has been in place since 2012. According to that policy, unlawful harassment was defined as “humiliating, abusive, or threatening conduct or behavior that denigrates or shows hostility or aversion toward an individual or group” or conduct that created a hostile living or working environment or interfered with an individual’s academic or work performance.
Examples of such harassment included “epithets or slurs,” “negative stereotyping” and “denigrating jokes.”
It also stated “[m]inor verbal and nonverbal slights, snubs, annoyances, insults, or isolated incidents including, but not limited to microaggressions,” would be considered harassment if the actions occurred repeatedly and targeted a particular group of people based on their race, sex or gender or other status that keeps them protected from discrimination.
But in May, three months after Speech First filed its suit, the university amended its policy. Later that same month, U.S. District Judge Lynn Hughes, a Reagan appointee, blocked the university from reinstating its original anti-harassment policy.
“This is a huge win for the First Amendment,” said Cherise Trump, executive director of Speech First, a group that pushes back against what it calls “toxic censorship culture” on campuses. “It sends a message to the University of Houston and other universities that they will be held accountable if they enact unconstitutional policies on campus.”
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