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Want to know what is on our minds? Find blog posts written here, by the City Club staff, members, and partners. Every week you can find a new edition of #FreeSpeech in the News — a collection of related stories, commentary, and opinions on free speech in the 21st century that’s making the news. You’ll also find takes on current events, past forums, and issues surrounding Northeast Ohio. Read on for all things City Club.

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Monday, October 04, 2021

#FREESPEECH in the News October 4, 2021

Bliss Davis, Content and Programming Coordinator, The City Club of Cleveland

#FREESPEECH in the News October 4, 2021

As the Citadel of Free Speech here in Cleveland, we work to protect and promote the basis of our democracy by sharing related stories, commentary, and opinions on free speech in the 21st century. Here's what's making the news – and what you should know about – in the past week.

1.) Colleyville principal’s critical race theory controversy spurs free speech lawsuit against district

A judge declined to issue a temporary restraining order against Grapevine-Colleyville ISD on Monday after a Grapevine Republican Party precinct chair claimed board president Jorge Rodriguez and the district violated his free speech rights.

Mitchell Ryan’s lawsuit states that he was prevented from speaking at length about Colleyville Heritage Principal James Whitfield during an August board meeting. The district has a policy prohibiting speakers from identifying district employees and other people by name during the open public forum, and Ryan mentioned Whitfield by name.

U.S. District Judge Mark T. Pittman of the Northern District of Texas said there wasn’t enough proof that a policy to limit speech was unconstitutional, according to the Fort Worth Star-Telegram. The judge’s ruling came on the same night trustees for Grapevine-Colleyville ISD met for a regularly scheduled school board meeting, one week after a special meeting moved the group one step closer to not renewing the contract of the embattled principal.

2.) Virginia Tech ordered to stop enforcing policy that could violate free speech

A federal judge is ordering Virginia Tech to stop enforcing a policy that could violate students' rights to free speech. The ruling indicates that while the lawsuit is going on, Virginia Tech will no longer be able to enforce a computer policy.

The policy states students on university networks can’t violate the rights of others to be free of intimidation, harassment or unwarranted annoyance. The national organization Speech First worked with local members to file the lawsuit in April. They stated four university policies violated students' freedoms.

The other three take aim at discriminatory harassment, incidents with bias and passing out information on campus. In a statement, Virginia Tech says they are pleased the court found no issue with three of its policies.

"The university will certainly conduct a thorough review of that policy and will seek counsel from the Virginia Attorney General's Office. Until we complete that review and counsel, we will comply with the judge's ruling and not enforce that (fourth) policy" the university said.

3.) U.S. Supreme Court to hear Boston Christian flag dispute

The U.S. Supreme Court on Thursday agreed to hear a group's challenge to Boston's rejection of its request to fly a flag bearing the image of a Christian cross over city hall in a case involving religious and free speech rights.

The justices will consider an appeal by a Christian group called Camp Constitution of a lower court ruling in favor of the city, taking up the case four days before the start of their new nine-month term.

Camp Constitution is a volunteer group that teaches classes on U.S. history and current events. It unsuccessfully applied to raise a flag with a Christian cross on it over city hall in 2017. It noted that Boston had granted hundreds of requests brought by other private groups seeking to raise various flags.

The group said the city's refusal to grant the request violated the U.S. Constitution's First Amendment guarantee of freedom of speech. Part of the city's defense is that raising the flag might violate another section of the First Amendment that prohibits government endorsement of religion.

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