WASHINGTON, DC—A Young Americans for Liberty student activist, who was told by school authorities that he could not hand out copies of the Constitution—on Constitution Day—filed suit in federal court.
Robert Van Tuinen, a Modesto Junior College student and army veteran, is suing the Yosemite Community College District and MJC administrators for violating his First Amendment right to free speech.
Tuinen was participating in YAL’s “Constitution Week,” a nationwide activism project with 182 participating campus chapters, when he was met with opposition, first from campus security, then a school administrator.
The entire encounter was caught on tape, which can be viewed below:
The complaint’s multiple counts charge the community college district with violating Van Tuinen’s free speech under the First Amendment. It also charges the district with violating the right to free speech guaranteed in the California Constitution, and with failing to adequately train its employees about students’ constitutional rights.
Robert is requesting an injunction barring the college from enforcing its speech code as well as monetary damages to be determined by the court.
“I was really hoping that MJC would realize its mistakes after receiving media attention and public outcry,” Van Tuinen said. “Unfortunately, they did not, so I realized that taking legal action was necessary to protect my rights and other students’ rights,” he added.
Van Tuinen is being represented by the law firm of Davis Wright Tremaine and is assisted bythe Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE).
Modesto Junior College was one of three college campuses to bar YAL activists from distributing the Constitution during Constitution Week. The College of Central Florida and Madison Area Area Technical College forbid activists from passing out the Constitution.
For more information on Van Tuinen’s case, visit here.
For media inquiries, contact Alyssa Farah at Alyssa.Farah@yaliberty.org.