Liberty Justice Center filed an appeal on behalf of a former Arizona State University student who was convicted of trespassing when he handed out copies of the U.S. Constitution on campus.
Tim Tizon was arrested last March after he refused to stop distributing pamphlets of the Constitution while still a student at the university. Tizon is appealing to the Maricopa County Circuit Court and is being represented pro bono by Liberty Justice Center.
“If free speech means anything, it means that in a public area at a public university a student should not be arrested for handing out copies of the U.S. Constitution,” Reilly Stephens, Liberty Justice Center staff attorney, told the Daily Caller. “It starts being as simple as that.”
Tizon had set up a table on the Tempe campus’ North Plaza with the logo of Young Americans for Liberty, a libertarian student organization of which he was a member, while handing out the pamphlets. Campus officials reportedly told him that his setup violated the school’s “reservation policy” and that he needed to move to an isolated location designated as a “free speech zone.” He was arrested and forcibly removed when he refused.
“Universities are supposed to be the epicenter of the marketplace of ideas,” Tizon said in a statement. “ASU has let me down and every other student too by placing its bureaucracy ahead of our First Amendment rights.”
According to the Free Speech Center at Middle Tennessee State University, a free speech zone is an area on a college campus specifically designated for public speech. They are widely derided by First Amendment advocacy groups as being unconstitutional, and several groups have challenged free speech zone policies in court and won.
“It is absolutely silly that students have to worry about getting arrested for standing in the wrong patch of grass,” Carter Quill, Young Americans for Liberty’s director of media relations, told the Caller. “Speech codes like this treat students like babies who aren’t capable of hearing a political idea without having a guidance counselor around. People go to college to learn, not be coddled; and Tim Tizon deserves some justice for both this unjust arrest and for having to put up with trigger-happy campus administrators who need to learn their place.”
Stephens said cases like Tizon’s are common on college campuses.
“We’ve seen things like this happen at a lot of schools in a lot of different places in the country, and we think that it’s important to stand up for the fact that our public universities are public and are for the public exchange of ideas; and all our client was trying to do was advocate for those ideas he cares about and advocate for the Constitution,” he told the Caller.
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