- The Washington Times - Wednesday, October 19, 2016

A student is suing Iowa State University after the school said his graduation may be placed on hold if he refuses to surrender his First Amendment rights.

Student Robert Dunn declined to certify that he would abide by a university policy saying “engaging in First Amendment protected speech activities” may constitute “harassment.”

Even if the speech is protected by the First Amendment, the university policy says students may be punished “depending on the circumstances,” including whether other students believe the speech is not “legitimate,” “necessary” or “constructive.”

Officials at the public university said any student who fails to certify compliance with the policy runs the risk of having his diploma withheld.

The Alliance Defending Freedom, which represents Mr. Dunn, filed a lawsuit Monday against Iowa State, demanding the policy be immediately suspended.

ADF senior counsel Casey Mattox said these are “anti-speech policies masquerading as ‘harassment’ policies.”

“No university policy can trump the First Amendment,” Mr. Mattox said in a statement. “Iowa State thinks it knows better than the First Amendment, making other student’s opinions about the value of a student’s speech, instead of the Constitution, the test for whether speech is protected.”

The policies “are not befitting an institution of higher education, especially when Iowa State demands that students agree to them under threat of withholding the ability to graduate,” he said.

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