FREE SPEECH -- A federal judge has barred
the Los Angeles Community College District from enforcing a sexual
harassment policy that bans "offensive" remarks in and out of the
classroom, on grounds that its vagueness is unconstitutional, reports Gale Holland for the Los Angeles Times.
As a last resort, the district said the policy had been revoked in any event, a disclosure that did not amuse the court.
preliminary injunction against pressing the policy at the request of
Jonathan Lopez, an L.A. City College student who in February filed a
suit accusing a professor of censoring his classroom speech about his
religious beliefs, including opposition to gay marriage.
Lopez delivered the speech in the emotional aftermath of the passage of Proposition 8, which banned gay marriage in California.
student said that the professor cut his presentation short, called him
a "fascist bastard" and told him to "ask God" for his grade.
district disciplined the professor, John Matteson, and Lopez received
an A in the course. His suit sought financial damages and a ban on
enforcing the sexual harassment code.
King said the policy's use of "subjective" terms
such as "hostile" and "offensive" discouraged students from exercising
their 1st Amendment rights.
In an eleventh-hour argument, the
district asserted that the code had been repealed two years earlier.
King chided officials for not bringing that up sooner.
chagrined that defense counsel and defendants' representative who were
present at the oral argument on June 10, 2009, were apparently ignorant
of the status of a policy they purported to defend," King's order said.
"This lack of preparedness is viewed with great disfavor."
injunction will remain in place as Lopez's lawsuit proceeds. Camille
Goulet, the college district's attorney, said officials had not decided
whether to appeal the injunction ruling but would "be diligent and
conscientious in following any final court order."