Dickinson is a Christian who wants to share his faith publically with others, and on October 3, 2016, went to North Seattle College, a public college, for this purpose. To avoid trouble, he contacted campus security about where on campus he could speak, and was directed to an outdoor courtyard in the middle of campus containing a sign designating it as the area for free speech. Dickinson soon shared his views there, orally engaging students with his natural voice about the merits of his Christian faith. He caused no disturbance, and several students listened to what he had to say.
However, a short while later, campus security approached Dickinson, and notified him that he would not be allowed to continue with his message because someone who had passed through the courtyard complained about it. Due to the complaint, Dickinson’s message was deemed a “disturbance”, and campus security forced him to leave. Not wanting trouble, Dickinson left. But, subsequently, he received a trespass notice advising that he was permanently banned from all areas of campus, including the free speech zone.
CRE sent a letter to the college, requesting they rescind the unconstitutional ban on Dickinson’s speech, but the college declined. CRE filed suit to restore Dickinson’s free speech rights.
“Once the government opens up an area for speech, it cannot perpetually ban speech from occurring there because someone does not like it,” said CRE Chief Counsel Nate Kellum. “Censoring Mr. Dickinson’s speech because someone complained, the college has effectively turned its free speech zone into a speech-free zone for Mr. Dickinson.”
Center for Religious Expression is a servant-oriented, non-profit 501(c)(3) Christian legal organization dedicated to the glory of God and the religious freedom of His people. For more information, visit http://www.crelaw.org.