A college student won a major free-speech victory against his school this week after campus police twice ordered him to stop preaching in the school’s courtyard last fall.
Christian Parks, an evangelical Christian, sued Thomas Nelson Community College in Hampton, Virginia, earlier this year, claiming his First Amendment rights were violated, CBN News reported.
“When plaintiff Christian Parks, a student at TNCC, sought to preach and discuss his religious views in an open, outdoor plaza on campus, TNCC officials required him to stop in part because his speech might offend someone,” his lawsuit read in part.
It continued, “Defendants took these actions because of the content and viewpoint of Parks’ expression, because they feared his expression would prompt complaints, and because they wanted to pacify those who might be offended by his expression.”
The Virginia Community College System has agreed to pay Parks $25,000 and has eliminated its so-called “free speech zone” policy, which relegated student expression to specified areas.
The regulation, which was suspended in April, had been in practice since 1968 on the school system’s 23 campuses.
Under the controversial policy, students in the public community college system could only speak in public areas on campus if they were part of a student group — and they needed permission from the school four days before a demonstration, the Hampton Roads Daily Press reported.
Parks didn’t have the required permission, so campus police stopped him from speaking.
The resolution came without the need for an extensive court battle, as Virginia Attorney General Mark Herring opted not to defend the policy in court, according to the Virginian-Pilot.
“Once the suit was filed, our office got all parties together to help facilitate a solution prior to extensive litigation,” spokesperson Michael Kelly told the outlet.
Parks was represented by Alliance Defending Freedom, a conservative legal firm.
(H/T: CBN News)