After Supreme Court Win, Christian Students Accept Monetary Settlement From College That Violated Their Free Speech Rights

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Two Christian former college students whose Supreme Court victory allowed them to pursue nominal damages after their right to share their faith on campus was infringed settled their lawsuit in exchange for a payment of more than $800,000 by the college.

As The Epoch Times previously reported, the case goes back to 2016 when Chike Uzuegbunam—then a student at Georgia Gwinnett College, a public college in Lawrenceville, Georgia—was on campus handing out religious literature and sharing his Christian beliefs. A college official stopped him, saying he was breaking school rules by not speaking within the boundaries of an approved “speech zone.”

Uzuegbunam was unaware he wasn’t standing inside one of the two tiny speech zones where students were allowed to express themselves on campus. To use the zones, students had to seek preclearance and submit any leaflets in advance, after which officials would decide on their application. To speak publicly outside the zones, students also had to first obtain a permit from the school.

Uzuegbunam obtained a permit and spoke publicly a second time, making a good-faith effort to follow rules, but someone complained to campus security after he began speaking and college officials accused him of “disorderly conduct.” Student Joseph Bradford also wanted to speak publicly, but the policy led him to back off. Both students are evangelical Christians who believe they have a duty to share their faith.

The college eventually changed its student speech policies after the students filed suit each seeking $1 in nominal damages to make the point that they had been wronged without seeking further damages. Nominal damages means a trivial sum to reflect the fact that a tort, or civil wrong, has been committed. After the lawsuit was initiated, the college changed its policy and allowed speech anywhere outdoors on campus.

By Matthew Vadum

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