ON CAMPUS"I was arrested for handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution!"

Michelle’s Story

As Michelle Gregoire watched the wave of violent riots sweep over several college campuses last year, she was shocked that college officials seemed to sit back and just let it happen.

On television she saw destructive riots, mobs shutting down speakers they didn’t like, and student protestors attacking and injuring professors.

“I couldn’t help but wonder, as I watched all of this unfolding, why there wasn’t more of an uproar about this from campus officials,” said Michelle.

“Campus officials at Kellogg Community College in Michigan were certainly quick to shut down my speech,” she said. “I was arrested, in fact. My crime? I was handing out copies of the Constitution on campus.”

School officials stifled free speech

Just a few months earlier, Gregoire and four other supporters of Young Americans for Liberty had stood on a large, public walkway on campus, talking to students about the club and handing out pocket-sized copies of the U.S. Constitution.

College administrators and campus security showed up and told them they were violating school policies. The officials informed the club members they needed to obtain prior permission from the college, and, what’s more, they were not allowed to conduct expressive activity at this location on campus.

“There was no screaming, there was no rioting, there was no mob, and there certainly were no casualties. And yet, I’m the one that wound up arrested.”
— Michelle Gregoire

The officials told Gregoire, Withers, and the others that they must immediately stop engaging in their speech activities and leave campus. When Gregoire and two of the other club supporters politely informed the school chief of public safety that they were going to continue exercising their First Amendment freedoms by talking with students and handing out copies of the Constitution, he arrested them and charged them with trespass.

“There was no screaming, there was no rioting, there was no mob, and there certainly were no casualties,” said Michelle. “And yet, I’m the one that wound up arrested.”

Kellogg Community College had a speech zone policy. According to the policy, students and others must obtain permission from the school before they can engage in any expressive activity anywhere on campus, including the distribution of any written material.

“What is ironic is that the very document that we were passing out guarantees our right to speak freely anywhere on campus — the Constitution.”

“Thankfully, Alliance Defending Freedom came to our defense,” Michelle said.

When ADF and Allied Attorney Jeshua Lauka intervened, the charges were dropped — but the unconstitutional policies restricting student speech remained in effect.

MichelleAndStudents-MichelleStory-041618
I was arrested for handing out copies of the Constitution, while campus rioters go free.

The college resisted making changes to its unconstitutional policies

For almost a year after the arrests and for eight months after the student group filed suit, the college refused to change any of its policies. Then, two weeks after a federal judge made clear at a hearing that he believed the policies to be unconstitutional, the college made some initial, but insufficient, changes.

The college finally made further changes during settlement negotiations to fully protect student expression as the Constitution requires.

“What is ironic is that the very document that we were passing out guarantees our right to speak freely anywhere on campus — the Constitution.”
— Michelle Gregoire

“We have our priorities backward if campus rioters face fewer consequences than we did,” Michelle says. “And it sends the wrong message to students: that free speech only extends to popular or government-approved ideas.”

“Perhaps university officials should spend a little more time reading the document that we were passing out,” she says. “It is the document our country was founded on, after all.”

You can help defend students like Michelle

Sadly, the unconstitutional silencing of free speech experienced by Michelle is common. Colleges and universities all across America are attempting to bully students into silence simply because of their views.

ADF has dedicated itself to protecting students from attacks on their freedom on campus. We have amassed a highly successful track record challenging restrictive speech codes, speech zones, and other policies that violate students’ liberties. But the opponents of freedom on our nation’s campuses are dedicated and persistent.

We know that we’re in for a long, drawn-out, and very expensive battle.

Your gift today will defend free speech on campus.

This is the legal fight for you, your children, your nation, and the future of freedom. We can win, but we must have your help!

Thanks so much for your prayers and your partnership.

About Alliance Defending Freedom

Alliance Defending Freedom is an alliance-building, nonprofit legal organization that advocates for the right of people to freely live out their faith.

ADF was launched in 1994 by 35 ministry leaders, including Dr. James Dobson, Dr. D. James Kennedy, Dr. Bill Bright, and Larry Burkett.

With God’s blessing, ADF has grown from the prayers of those godly leaders to become a major force in the legal battle for religious freedom, winning nearly 80% of our cases, including nine victories at the U.S. Supreme Court in the last seven years.