MI Supreme Court Says MSU Violates Free Speech Rights

Jul 27, 2012

The state Supreme Court has struck down a Michigan State University ordinance that’s supposed to protect employees from harassment as a violation of the First Amendment.

The Michigan Public Radio Network's Rick Pluta reports the court says the ordinance violates the First Amendment.

The MSU ordinance makes it a misdemeanor to “disrupt the normal activity” of anyone who is doing work for the university. Jared Rapp was charged with breaking the ordinance after he confronted the MSU worker who wrote him a parking ticket. Rapp reportedly shouted at a parking enforcement officer, and snapped pictures with his phone until the university police showed up.

Rapp says the rule violates his First Amendment rights.

Two Republicans joined with three Democrats on the court to form the majority opinion that agreed with Rapp. The ruling says MSU’s rule is too vague and could be innocently violated.

The ruling also says MSU has plenty of other rules that prohibit assaultive or seriously disruptive behavior. Two justices disagreed. They said the court is interfering with the authority of MSU’s governing board.