Saturday, February 11, 2006

Is the leonard law unconstitutional?
I haven't brushed up on Pruneyard v Robbins lately, but it seems like a private school should have the right to edit speech.

USC is also over 10 years behind the times when it comes to the broader question of whether it may suppress offensive student speech. As a private university, USC is not bound by the First Amendment — but the Leonard Law, enacted by the California Legislatures in 1992, obligates private colleges in California to generally tolerate student speech under the same standards imposed by the First Amendment on the government:

(a) No private postsecondary educational institution shall make or enforce any rule subjecting any student to disciplinary sanctions solely on the basis of conduct that is speech or other communication that, when engaged in outside the campus or facility of a private postsecondary institution, is protected from governmental restriction by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or Section 2 of Article 1 of the California Constitution. . . .

I'm not wild about this restriction on private universities' freedom of action; while I think that private universities generally ought not suppress student speech, I think they should have the legal right to do so. But the Leonard Law is the law in California, and it seems to me that USC ought to comply with it. And the Leonard Law quite clearly bars USC from suppressing student speech simply because it's offensive or because includes profanities
. from Volokh.

A couple of posts at crescat may be related -
The Catholic University and the Kalven Report
Company Towns and Constitutional Rules

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