The US Department of Justice issued a statement on December 9, 2019, about a recent case in Mississippi. While the statement of interest is not an official ruling, the fact that they feel that Jones County Junior College is not in compliance with the First Amendment is very concerning.
J. Michael Brown, a student at Jones County Junior College, decided he wanted to start a conversation on campus about legalizing marijuana. Discussions surrounding the substance have become commonplace in the past few years as more states legalize it. When the campus police found out, Brown was told that he had to get administrative approval and wait three days before gathering information anywhere on campus.
In a statement, Brown said:
“Some people get in trouble for smoking weed, but at Jones College, I got in trouble just for trying to talk about it. That’s not what college is for. We’re supposed to debate openly about important issues, especially ones with huge national significance.” The police were called on Brown after he set up a sign asking students their opinions on the hotly debated topic.
Brown was eventually denied the right to publicly discuss legalizing marijuana on campus. This happened twice. After the second time, Brown, with the help of Young Americans for Liberty, filed a lawsuit against the college because he was being denied his First Amendment rights on campus.
Eric Dreiband, assistant attorney general for the Civil Rights Division of the DOJ, issued a statement after the department’s ruling.
“The United States of America is not a police state. Repressive speech codes are the indecent hallmark of despotic, totalitarian regimes. They have absolutely no place in our country.”
President Trump, and others, spoke on this matter during a recent press hearing.
Even US Secretary of Education, Betsy DeVos, commented on the case. In the DOJ’s statement, she said:
“This administration won’t let students be silenced. This is yet another concerning example of students encountering limits on what, when, where and how they learn. This is happening far too often on our nation’s campuses.”
The DOJ’s statement does not end the lawsuit, but it’s a good sign that our government still supports our First Amendment rights.
Copyright 2019, TargetLiberty.org