Calif. court: Christian student free to speak as case proceeds
SACRAMENTO, Calif. — A federal judge ordered Yuba Community College District officials Monday to temporarily suspend enforcement of policies against a student represented by Alliance Defense Fund attorneys. Yuba College officials threatened the student, Ryan Dozier, with arrest or expulsion for sharing his faith on campus in violation of college policies that dramatically restricted free speech. For example, the college prohibits student speech without a permit outside of the school’s “free speech” limits of one hour per day two days per week.
“Christian students shouldn’t have to face arrest or expulsion for expressing their beliefs on a public college campus,” said ADF Litigation Staff Counsel Heather Gebelin Hacker. “We are pleased that the court has intervened to prevent the college from continuing to silence Ryan’s speech with these unconstitutional policies.”
Dozier arrived on campus in February to attend class and briefly share a Christian message with fellow students, engaging them through tracts, a sign, and conversation along an outdoor walkway. A campus police officer approached Dozier, telling him he needed a permit for such activity and that he would be arrested or face expulsion if he continued. The college allows “free speech” only on Tuesdays and Thursdays between 12 p.m. and 1 p.m., with permission required two weeks in advance.
Dozier later received a certified letter from the college accusing him of assembling without a permit and violating school policy. The letter stated that his activity was the subject of a district police department crime report and that future violation of the directive and Student Code of Conduct would result in further discipline, including arrest and expulsion from the college.
“The college’s policies unlawfully censor student speech on campus. We look forward to making our arguments to the court at the hearing scheduled for Dec. 12,” said ADF Litigation Staff Counsel David Hacker, who is also working on the case. Dozier is additionally represented by ADF-allied attorney Timothy M. Smith of the Sacramento law firm McKinley and Smith.
A copy of the minute order issued by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, Sacramento Division, in the lawsuit Dozier v. Houle is available here.
The ADF Center for Academic Freedom defends religious freedom at America’s public universities. ADF is a legal alliance defending the right to hear and speak the Truth through strategy, training, funding, and litigation.