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Impending demise of Va. community colleges' 'free-speech zones' continues national trend

The latest in a string of successful court challenges to college "free speech zones" is unfolding in Virginia.

The Virginia Community College System has agreed to suspend its student demonstrations policy in response to a lawsuit filed by a Thomas Nelson Community College student who was barred from preaching on campus. 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 student Christian 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 First Amendment complaints.

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