Thursday, October 22, 2009

Places of Higher Learning

As discussed in Chapter 8 of the book, many public colleges and universities have essentially adopted the speech bureaucracy in place outside campus gates for the spaces within. Among other things, this includes application of insurance and permit requirements and designation of "speech zones." I call this a "Campus Order Management System," a variation of what political scientists have referred to as a "Public Order Management System" applicable in public places.

In many instances, campus officials change these policies, in particular the zoning requirements, after a lawsuit is filed or the press reports on the restrictions. This case, which involves the designation of speech zones and an insurance requirement at Arizona State University, seems to involve this pattern. The oral argument suggests that the case may be decided on mootness grounds. The plaintiffs want a judgment on the merits, both for precedential value and, one assumes, an award of attorneys' fees.

You can read more about speech zoning and other free speech issues on campuses across the country on the FIRE website, which is included in the links section of the blog.

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