Conservative college students in California, who filed a lawsuit against their school’s leaders over alleged discrimination for censoring anti-communist flyers, scored a “big win” when a judge issued a preliminary injunction, according to a lawyer representing the case.
“The preliminary injunction order is good news for the Plaintiffs (our clients), because it means that while the case is pending, Clovis can’t enforce its ban on inappropriate or offensive language against student flyers,” Jeff Zeman, a Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression (FIRE) attorney, told The College Fix for a Tuesday article.
“This is a big win for the plaintiffs. … We’ve also asked that, at the end of the case, the court grant a permanent injunction,” Zeman added.
FIRE filed a lawsuit earlier this year on behalf of three students at Clovis Community College, who are also members of the school’s chapter of the Young Americans for Freedom chapter, after they were allegedly discriminated against when the school ordered the removal of flyers promoting Freedom Week in November 2021. Freedom Week is an event launched by the Young America’s Foundation that pushes back against socialism and promotes conservative ideology, according to YAF’s website.
The lawsuit, which was previously reviewed by Fox News Digital, states the three plaintiffs had received approval to post anti-communist and anti-socialist flyers on bulletin boards inside campus buildings last November. They were taken down, however, at the direction of Clovis President Dr. Lori Bennett, according to the complaint.
U.S. District Judge Jennifer Thurston issued a preliminary injunction last month that bars Clovis Community leaders from preventing students from posting flyers over “inappropriate or [offensive] language or themes.”
“The Court held that the Defendants’ ban on ‘inappropriate’ or ‘offensive’ speech was unconstitutionally vague and overbroad, and the Defendants have now rescinded the policy. This is a huge win for not only Alejandro, Juliette, and Daniel, but all Clovis students. The case is not over, but it is a good first step in vindicating our clients’ First Amendment rights,” Zeman added in comment to Fox News Digital on Tuesday.
“There have been a surprising amount of students come up to me and say that they’ve heard about what’s going on,” Juliette Colunga, a plaintiff in the case and president of Clovis Community College’s chapter of the Young Americans for Freedom, told The College Fix. “Even some liberal students that are initially skeptical about our story are later shocked to hear how the school is treating free speech once they learn all the facts of the story.”
Emails obtained by FIRE under a public record request earlier this year show an administrator at the college offered to “gladly take down” the flyers posted by the Young Americans for Freedom chapter members. The emails show that administrators were aware the YAF chapter is an “official club on campus,” but noted “several people” were “very uncomfortable” with the flyers, including a person who allegedly threatened a “harassment claim” if the posters were not taken down.
One of the flyers in question reads, “Leftist Ideas: ‘Progress’ that always leads to death.” The poster showed skulls and bones being buried, accompanied by data on how many people have been killed in countries that ushered in “progressive social movements.”
The lawsuit also addressed an issue in December 2021, when the students say they were denied permission by the dean of student services to post pro-life flyers on bulletin boards inside campus buildings. They were told they could instead post them on a “free speech kiosk.” The lawsuit states the kiosk is “a small box covered in rotting wood planks, sits at the edge of a walkway students virtually never use because it does not lead to any building entrances or parking lots.”
Among the list of defendants in the suit are Clovis Community College President Lori Bennett, Vice President of Student Services Marco De La Garza, Dean of Student Services Gurdeep Sihota Hebert and Senior Student Services Program Specialist Patrick Stumpf.
“The judge’s ruling on the preliminary injunction is absolutely a great step in the right direction for us, but the fight is not over at all. We will continue to stand up and fight for our free speech,” Colunga added in a comment to The College Fix.
Fox News Digital reached out to Clovis Community College for comment but did not immediately receive a response.