YAF and our partners at Alliance Defending Freedom
have achieved a decisive victory for free speech. After a two-year-long
lawsuit, Palm Beach State College (PBSC) has agreed
revise its speech policy so that students no longer need permission
to express themselves on campus.
In 2010, college officials denied Young Americans for Freedom
members permission to distribute Heritage Foundation
a student organization fair and also prohibited them from handing
out information within the “free speech zones” on several PBSC
campuses. The officials cited PBSC’s speech policies as their
Although college policy demanded that speakers obtain permission to
hand out materials 24 hours in advance, PBSC informed the leader of
YAF that it actually completely banned literature distribution.
PBSC policies further denied constitutionally protected rights by
requiring advance permission from the dean two weeks prior to
off-campus events held on weekends or past 9 p.m. on weekdays. At
least two adult college staff members also had to be present at
these activities, among several other stringent restrictions.
In January 2011, the college agreed to a court
order that temporarily froze its problematic policy. The
settlement in Young Americans for Freedom v.
Bryant in the U.S. District Court for the Southern
District of Florida replaces the speech-restrictive policy with a
revised one that better protects student speech.
According to the revised policy, students no longer need
permission to speak or distribute literature on campus, nor must
students confine their speech to designated speech zones.
“From its absolute ban on literature distribution by students to
its limited ‘free speech zones’ to its regulation of student group
meetings–even when off campus–Palm Beach State’s policies were
among the most offensive to the First Amendment,” said lead counsel
Rick Nelson, one of nearly 2,200 allied attorneys with Alliance
Defending Freedom. “But now they have taken a much better course in
permanently removing these burdensome restrictions on First
The university is supposed to be the marketplace of ideas and this
settlement allows YAF activists to participate in that marketplace
once again, just as America’s founders intended.