Ruth Malhotra and Orit Kwasman
Ruth Malhotra and Orit Kwasman (née Sklar), unleashed all the worst furies of the Left when they stood up in support of their faith and their conservative views on the campus of Georgia Tech. The two united in their vocal opposition to the school's ironclad speech codes, which severely curtailed any student conversation, publications, events, or activities administrators arbitrarily deemed "intolerant." The codes banned free exchange of ideas except in very limited areas of campus, denied student activity funds to clubs and organizations that engaged in 'religious activities,' and officials even instituted a program, "Safe Space," designed to demonize anyone or any group that considered homosexual behavior immoral.
When Ruth and Orit asked the Alliance Defending Freedom to sue Georgia Tech on their behalf, they found themselves mocked, cursed, defamed on posters, and threatened with rape and even murder. University officials offered virtually no protection or support, so outside police were assigned to protect the girls for the duration of their time on campus.
The young women’s courage was rewarded when their case ended victoriously. Georgia Tech was forced to eliminate their anti-religious program and remove the speech code that violated the First Amendment. This critical outcome serves as a precedent for other schools around the country to abandon their similar speech codes and censorship.
Share this page
Sklar v. Clough
What's at stake
- Protecting the rights of religious and conservative students to speak freely on public university campuses
- Ensuring religious and conservative students have equal access to funding and facilities on campus, and are not excluded because of the content or viewpoint of their speech
While studying at the Georgia Institute of Technology, Orit and Ruth were discriminated against because of their religious and conservative views. Their experiences were not isolated, but were the inevitable result of an administration hostile to free speech. Georgia Tech policies severely curtailed student conversations, publications, events, or activities that administrators arbitrarily deemed "intolerant," banned the free exchange of ideas except in very limited areas of campus, denied student activity funds to clubs and organizations that engaged in 'religious activities,' even though all students were forced to pay these fees, and officials even instituted a program, "Safe Space," designed to demonize anyone or any group that considered homosexual behavior immoral.
When these policies and their experiences became intolerable, Orit and Ruth sued. But they found themselves mocked, cursed, defamed on posters, and threatened with rape and even murder by other students and individuals. In fact, rather than acknowledge the error of its ways, the administration created a council called “Finding Common Ground,” to dialogue about “diversity” and criticize the efforts of these two women.
Our role in this case
Alliance Defending Freedom represented Orit and Ruth in their struggle to assert their constitutional rights on Georgia Tech’s campus. Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys negotiated a settlement eliminating the speech code and caused Georgia Tech to repeal its speech zone policy. A federal court ruled in the students’ favor on the Safe Space program, finding that it violated the Establishment Clause because it was so hostile to religion and preferred some religious denominations over others.