PHILADELPHIA — In a victory for free speech on campus, a federal judge on Thursday issued a permanent injunction against Temple University’s former speech code policy and also rejected Temple’s attempts to dismiss plaintiff Christian DeJohn’s claims that Temple has withheld his master’s degree because of his political and ideological viewpoint.
“This is an important victory for free speech on campus,” said ADF Senior Counsel David French, director of CAF. “Temple has argued throughout this case that student free speech rights exist essentially at the whim of administrators and professors. With this ruling, the court has reminded Temple--and all public universities in Pennsylvania--that universities must protect free expression rather than merely protecting views that are ‘politically correct.’”
In its order, the court rejected Temple’s argument that its old speech code, which was changed just before the summary judgment deadline in the case, was constitutionally justified. The court also rejected the university’s attempt to dismiss DeJohn’s claim that school officials retaliated against him for expressing displeasure at anti-war messages sent to him by professors while he served overseas in the military. The court set April 25 as the trial date for DeJohn’s retaliation claim but dismissed his equal protection claim.
A copy of the order issued Thursday by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania in DeJohn v. Temple University is available here.
In September, a federal judge denied Temple University’s motion to dismiss the case.
“Administrators cannot use a political litmus test as a way of determining whether or not a student will earn a degree,” French said. “We are pleased that Temple is now permanently barred from imposing an unconstitutional policy, and we are pleased that Christian DeJohn will have his day in court. ADF will continue moving forward in its efforts to ensure that Christian will be allowed to earn his degree and finish his college education without suffering further discrimination on the part of Temple officials.”
The ADF Center for Academic Freedom is defending religious freedom at America’s public universities. ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.