San Francisco State University was sued Monday for allegedly
violating students’ right to free speech when it investigated an incident
during which students stomped on flags bearing the name of Allah.
The Alliance Defense Fund and the Foundation for Individual
Rights in Education filed the federal lawsuit on behalf of the plaintiffs the
College Republicans club and members Trent Downes and Leigh Wolf.
The case charges the university with having violated the
plaintiffs’ First Amendment rights by dragging them through a five-month
investigation and campus tribunal after they stepped on Hamas and Hezbollah
flags during an anti-terrorism rally. The flags bear the Muslim name for God, Allah.
“The Supreme Court ruled long ago that the First
Amendment protects the right to burn even an American flag in political
protest,” FIRE President Greg Lukianoff
said in a statement. “There are no special protections for Hamas and
Hezbollah flags. SFSU knew this, and there is no excuse for putting these
students through a five-month ordeal.”
Officials with FIRE said
they wrote to SFSU President Robert A. Corrigan twice saying that students
can’t be singled out for peacefully protesting, but the university continued
its investigation, eventually clearing the students.
University officials declined immediate comment Monday
because they hadn’t reviewed the suit.
The lawsuit seeks to hold the university responsible for
mistreating students who engaged in constitutionally protected behavior. It
also wants the university to strike down codes the plaintiffs consider
unconstitutional, because they limit speech on campus.
- Associated Press
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