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Supreme Court of the United States

WATCH: Why a Public College Had These Volunteers Arrested

By Maureen Collins posted on:
September 23, 2020

Michelle, Nathan, and Isaac were arrested and put in jail.

You're probably wondering what crime they committed to land them behind bars.

Well, the three volunteers for the organization Young Americans for Liberty were arrested for distribution. But they were not distributing anything illegal.

In fact, what these three volunteers were handing out to students at Kellogg Community College (KCC), a public university in Battle Creek, Michigan, was a public document. And not just any public document—but the very document that protects their freedom to speak freely: the U.S. Constitution.


While they were handing out Constitutions, a campus administrator, Drew Hutchinson, approached Michelle, Nathan, and Isaac and told them that they needed to stop what they were doing right away. Confused, they asked Mr. Hutchinson, “Why?”

They weren't doing anything wrong. They weren't obstructing anyone’s path or interfering with nearby events. They weren’t staging the type of disruptive or violent protest which is regrettably becoming all too common in too many of our cities.

They were simply offering pocket Constitutions to students walking by.

“There was no screaming, there was no rioting, there was no mob, and there certainly were no casualties,” said Michelle.

Mr. Hutchinson explained that the three volunteers were in violation of the school’s speech policies, which prohibited anyone from engaging in expressive activity anywhere on campus (including distributing written material) without obtaining permission.

But the only “permission” Michelle, Nathan, and Isaac needed to speak on the campus of a public college can be found in the very document they were handing out—the First Amendment.

When the three continued to pass out the Constitutions, Mr. Hutchinson called the chief of campus police who arrested them and put them in jail for over seven hours.

In response to an Alliance Defending Freedom lawsuit, the school eventually came around and changed its policy. So fortunately, others in the future will be spared a similar ordeal. But unfortunately, restrictive speech policies like the one at KCC are not uncommon at public universities across the nation. What's worse is that many students do not even realize that their right to free speech is being violated by their school because they have never gotten a chance to study the Constitution.

And if these colleges and universities have it their way, it will stay like that. 

Visit the Freedom Matters landing page to watch more stories of ADF clients and learn about the freedoms that are at stake in their cases. 


Maureen Collins

Maureen Collins

Digital Cultivation Manager

Maureen Collins serves as the Digital Cultivation Manager at Alliance Defending Freedom.

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