UA wins free speech lawsuit against traveling preacher
Traveling evangelical preacher Rodney Keister lost his appeal in the 11th United States Circuit Court of Appeals on Friday, requiring him to obtain a license to use university land to preach on campus.
At around 4 p.m. on March 10, 2016, Keister entered the University of Alabama campus, adjacent to 6th Avenue, and began preaching with a loudspeaker while displaying a banner and distributing literature. religious.
The University asked Keister to move to another location. He complied, and after being asked to leave campus by the University in the second location, Keister left and sued the University. Keister lost his case but appealed the decision.
In his view, 11th Circuit Judge Robin Rosenbaum noted the importance of the sidewalk in American culture, citing cultural anthropologist Margaret Mead’s assertion that “any city that doesn’t have sidewalks doesn’t like his children” and Shel Silverstein “Where the sidewalk ends.
“The significance of sidewalks has also not been lost on claimant-calling traveling evangelical preacher Rodney Keister,” Rosenbaum said. “This case arose out of Keister’s efforts to use a defendant-appellant University of Alabama sidewalk to spread the good word.”
Rosenbaum affirmed the district court’s judgment first issued on January 23, 2018, that the sidewalk on the university campus is a limited public forum, making the land use permit enforced by the university applicable in this case.
The University update its free speech and protest policy in January 2020, including “reasonable time, date and manner restrictions that are viewpoint-neutral” and requiring the gathering not to disrupt the normal activities of the University.
“Whether or not I agree with the restrictions of time, place and manner that UA has put in place is one thing, because they are quite strict,” said Dianne Bragg, associate professor at UA who teaches law. of mass communication. “They have been very neutral from the point of view. They didn’t try to suppress one type of speech over another.
A copy of the updated land use policy was provided to The Crimson White by the University’s Strategic Communications Division, stating that “any use of university space subject to registration under this section is further governed by the Terms and conditions for the use of university space.
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