News and Commentary

Community College Sued After Campus Police Arrest Students for Handing Out Constitutions

A community college in Michigan is being sued after campus police arrested student activists handing out pocket constitutions.

The three activists were arrested at Kellogg Community College after distributing pocket Constitutions and recruiting students to join the school’s Young Americans for Liberty chapter.

In this video, Isaac Edikauskas, vice president of the Michigan State YAL; Nathan Berning, a student at Stanford and an employee for the Leadership Institute; and Shelly Gregoire, president of the Kellogg Community College YAL chapter, are seen being arrested.

College officials accused the students of violating their solicitation policy which restricts students from “selling or soliciting goods or services on campus without written permission from the supervising college official(s).”

According to Campus Reform, the activists were told that they couldn’t engage with other students because it may “obstruct the student’s ability to get an education.”

The YAL chapter, represented by the Alliance Defending Freedom, filed the lawsuit on Jan. 18, which accuses the school of violating the First and Fourteenth Amendments and the Civil Rights Act of 1871.

The lawsuit cites a previous incident between the administration and group, in which Gregoire was required to reserve a table in the student center to recruit members to the club, but could not leave the table or approach students. Because of the restrictions placed on her, Gregoire was unable to recruit a sufficient quota of members.

During this incident, Gregoire, along with Berning and Edikauskas, stood outside the campus performing arts center, a heavily trafficked area on campus. They contend that they politely spoke with students, being careful not to harass or chase down anyone.

“Do you like freedom and liberty?” the students were asked as they walked by.

An unnamed administrator quickly approached the students and again requested that they reserve a table and/or a permit for soliciting on campus. Gregoire was told it was “fine” if she continued for that day by the administrator.

Within minutes, Drew Hutchinson, manager of student life on campus, also approached the students and ordered them to cease activities. They were again told that they could only solicit materials from an approved table in the student center.

“You’re asking them a provocative question in which you are instigating whether they are American or not,” Hutchinson told them, citing the “social pressure” they were putting on other students. “It’s a very powerful question.”

When Gregoire pointed out their First Amendment right to be there, security was called and the students were arrested shortly thereafter. Gregoire was banned from the campus until further notice.

“Today’s college students will be tomorrow’s legislators, judges, commissioners, and voters,” said ADF Senior Counsel Casey Mattox in a press release. “That’s why it’s so important that public universities model the First Amendment values they are supposed to be teaching to students, and why it should disturb everyone that KCC and many other colleges are communicating to a generation that the Constitution doesn’t matter.”

The lawsuit has not yet been scheduled.