Today we see a huge victory for the protection of our First Amendment rights as a direct outgrowth of last year’s Stand Up for Religious Freedom rally effort, organized by the Pro-Life Action League and Citizens for a Pro-Life Society, as protesters whose rights were violated at the June Rally in Dayton, Ohio are vindicated and free speech is protected.
At the June 8 Stand Up for Religious Freedom Rally in Dayton, Ohio, Sinclair Community College campus police told participants that they had to put down their “Stand Up for Religious Freedom” and “Stop Obama’s HHS Mandate” signs because of the school’s speech code which outrageously banned all signs because they could potentially be used as weapons.
I remember clearly when Eric Scheidler received a phone call from Bryan Kemper of Stand True Ministries, one of the speakers at the rally, during our own Rally in Chicago. Bryan and Rally Captain Ruth Deddens were shocked that police were asking them to put down signage during a First Amendment Rally!
At the time, Eric told them the best course of action was to obey the police’s orders, document the situation, and seek legal recourse later, which is exactly what they did.
Ruth and Bryan consulted with Chicago’s Thomas More Society and subsequently flied a lawsuit with the help of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) for the violation of their First Amendment right to free speech.
Today we’re happy to report that they settled that lawsuit with the provision that Sinclair Community College is dropping its unconstitutional speech code!
FIRE Senior Vice President Robert Shibley had this to say:
It’s hard to believe that for 20 years, Sinclair Community College had been enforcing an absurd ban on holding signs at protests. We’re glad that Sinclair Community College and the State of Ohio realized that continuing to defend a ban on signs would not just fly in the face of the First Amendment, but would also be a profound waste of taxpayer money.
Thanks to Ruth and Bryan for sticking through this difficult legal process, thanks to the Thomas More Society and FIRE for providing counsel, and thanks to all who stood up in over 400 cities nationwide last year for religious freedom!
We may not have won the immediate battle over the HHS Mandate, which still wages on, but we did make some important strides in protecting our most cherished liberties!
Get the full story on the Thomas More Society website, FIRE’s website, see a gallery of pictures from the June 8 Stand Up Rally in Dayton here and see video of Sinclair campus police treating Stand True’s Bryan Kemper with utter contempt below: