University and college campuses are prime locations to advocate for life, both because college-age women are an abortion-vulnerable population, and because young people in general tend to be more receptive to the pro-life message. Yet college administrators often seem to be hard-wired to restrict pro-life speech, viewing it as offensive or too controversial. Over the last few months, two groups of pro-life advocates worked closely with Life Legal Defense Foundation attorneys to successfully push back unlawful restrictions on their free speech activities.

A small group of pro-life students were reaching out at Ventura Community College using signs and leaflets to communicate with passing students in an open plaza on campus. They received a visit from the campus chief of police who told them not to display signs larger than 240 square inches. The group had previously been on campus and had read the college speech policy. They were able to point out that it only applied to posted signs, not to hand-held signs. At that point in the conversation, the college vice-president arrived with a brand-new speech policy that regulated both size and content of posted and hand-held signs. The explanation for the change in policy was that people were complaining about the signs. The advocates were told that if they did not comply with the new policy, they would be escorted off campus and could end up in jail under charges of resisting or obstructing an officer.

The group had the foresight to record their conversation (a recording that is legal under California law), and were able to share the recording with Katie Short, Life Legal Defense Foundation’s legal director, who happens to be the mother of two of these courageous pro-life students.

After reviewing the facts, Ms. Short sent a letter to Ventura Community College in which she explained the situation and laid out the very clear ways in which the College was violating the First Amendment. She also indicated that her daughters and the other students would be returning to the campus within the next few months, asking for assurance that their rights would be respected.

The college’s legal counsel responded with written assurance that, after review, the College would enforce its policy consistent with the First Amendment. With this letter in hand, the pro-life students were able to return last month and have a successful, peaceful outreach on campus.

This story comes from a Feb. 19 release issued by Life Legal Defense Foundation.