University of Alabama: Pro-Choice Group Ordered to Get Permit for Non-Disruptive Expression or Face Arrest
On April 10, 2013, members of the Alabama Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Justice (AASRJ) student group distributed fliers in response to a pro-life group's event on the University of Alabama's quad. After roughly one hour, UA police approached the students and ordered them to stop, warning them that without a grounds use permit they were subject to arrest for their activity. When AASRJ submitted that permit request in order to continue its counter-protest activities on April 11, the group was informed that the permit would not be approved in time, because the policy recommends requests be submitted "10 working days prior to the event." FIRE wrote to UA President Judy Bonner on May 22, reminding UA that it may not constitutionally require student groups like AASRJ to obtain permits to engage in fundamental First Amendment activities. UA has failed to respond to FIRE's letter, leaving student rights at UA in jeopardy.
- "Letter from FIRE to University of Alabama President Judy Bonner," October 17, 2013
- "University of Alabama General Terms and Conditions, University Ground Use Permits & Student Affairs Registered Events," August 1, 2013
- "University of Alabama Tells Pro-Choice Group to Get Permit for Pamphlets or Face Arrest," July 1, 2013: A pro-choice group at the University of Alabama has been threatened with arrest for distributing flyers in a grievous denial of student First Amendment rights. When a pro-life student group held a "Genocide Awareness Project" protest on campus featuring graphic abortion-related images, the Alabama Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Justice (AASRJ) student group counter-protested by handing out flyers. Campus police soon ordered AASRJ to cease distributing its materials and threatened members with arrest for failing to comply with its orders. FIRE has intervened at the University of Alabama following this blatant and chilling abuse of student First Amendment rights.
- "FIRE Letter to University of Alabama President Judy Bonner," May 22, 2013
- "Alabama Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Justice Protest Flyers," April 10, 2013
- "University of Alabama Grounds Use Permit - Frequently Asked Questions," August 1, 2012
- "University of Alabama Use of University Space, Facilities & Grounds Policy," August 1, 2012
- "FIRE Reminds U. of Alabama Again About Opening Up Campus to Free Speech," by Azhar Majeed, October 17, 2013: Today, FIRE sent a second letter to the University of Alabama (UA) reminding UA of its obligation as a public university to allow for open discourse and unfettered expressive activity on its campus. FIRE wrote to UA this May after the university used its grounds use policy to prohibit peaceful distribution of literature by the student group Alabama Alliance for Sexual and Reproductive Justice. Following revisions made to this policy over the summer, we now remind UA that while the revisions are a good start, it must go further in order to fully respect the First Amendment rights of its students.
- "'Tuscaloosa News' Dings U of Alabama for Censorship of Pro-Choice Speech," by Robert Shibley, July 15, 2013
- "U of Alabama Expresses Concern over Safety During ... Leafleting?," by Susan Kruth, July 12, 2013
- "FIRE's Peter Bonilla on U of Alabama and Restrictions on Spontaneous Expression," by Susan Kruth, July 10, 2013
- "Please Explain Why Putting University Administrators in Charge of Judging Speech Is a Good Idea," by Catherine Sevcenko, July 9, 2013
- "U of Alabama Fails to Respond to Letter on Speech Code; Students Consider New Strategies," by Susan Kruth, July 8, 2013
- "U of Alabama Policy Draws Criticism from Students, Free Speech Advocates," by Susan Kruth, July 2, 2013
- "University of Alabama Tells Pro-Choice Group to Get Permit for Pamphlets or Face Arrest," July 1, 2013
- "University of Alabama doesn't respond to calls for policy revision following abortion debate,"
by Melissa Brown, AL.com, July 5, 2013
- "Foundation says University of Alabama policy violates students' First Amendment rights,"
by Melissa Brown, AL.com, July 1, 2013