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Constitution Day

Virginia college 'free-speech zones' latest to fall

The latest in a string of successful court challenges to college "free speech zones" is unfolding in Virginia, where lawyers are negotiating a settlement in the case of a student who was barred from preaching on campus.The Virginia Community College System has agreed to suspend its student demonstrations policy in response to a lawsuit filed by Thomas Nelson Community College student Christian Parks. Both sides have asked a federal judge in Norfolk to put the case on hold until May 2 while a new policy and settlement details are negotiated. Judicial history and recent legislative developments suggested Parks had a good chance of prevailing. Over the last dozen years, several similar policies establishing restrictive speech zones at public colleges have been invalidated by courts or changed by officials to settle lawsuits alleging violation of students' First Amendment rights. And on April 4, Gov. Terry McAuliffe signed legislation limiting public colleges' restraint on student expressi...

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