(National Sentinel) Costly Activism: A California university professor caught on video erasing students’ pro-life messages last spring will be forced to pay $17,000, the Fresno Bee reported, citing information from faith-based law firm Alliance Defending Freedom.
Public health prof Greg Thatcher of Fresno State must also attend First Amendment training which will be provided by the very same law firm that won a judgment against him.
Earlier this year, Thatcher was caught on video using his shoe to erase messages placed on a sidewalk by students that read, “Women need love, not abortion,” then telling other students it was okay for them to do the same thing.
Thatcher said that such messages only belonged in a “free speech area,” adding that “college campuses are not free speech areas.”
However, the Fresno Bee reported that the university doesn’t have a designated free speech zone. As such, two students sued Thatcher over his actions. They filed in May, the paper said.
Students Bernadette Tasy and Jesus Herrera, members of Students for Life of America, will each receive $1,000 in damages while $15,000 will go to Alliance Defending Freedom, which took the students’ case and defended them in court.
In an order filed in court last week, Thatcher is forbidden from “interfering with, disrupting, defacing, or altering” any similar student activities in the future.
The First Amendment training Thatcher is required to attend is to last two hours, said the paper.
“No public university professor has the authority to silence any student speech he happens to find objectionable or to recruit other students to participate in his censorship,” ADF attorney Travis Barham said in a statement Thursday.
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“Like all government officials, professors have an obligation to respect the constitutionally protected free speech of students,” he continued.
“Of all people, professors should be the first to encourage all students to participate in the marketplace of ideas rather than erase the speech of those with whom they differ. The professor’s actions here were wrong and flagrantly violated the First Amendment.”
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