UVA Legal Counsel Opines on Free Speech

The “F— UVa” sign on the door of a University of Virginia resident of the Lawn violates no university policy and is protected by the First Amendment, concluded University Counsel Timothy J. Heaphy. However, a new policy banning all signs on lawn room doors could pass constitutional muster if applied prospectively instead of retrospectively.

“A new policy banning signs would also maintain the historic character of the Lawn, consistent with its status as a UNESCO World Heritage Site,” Heaphy opined in a letter addressed to university Rector James B. Murray Jr. on Sept. 29. “Students would have ample other opportunities to exercise free speech even if they could not post signs on their doors.”

However, he warned, “a blanket rule against all posters would be overinclusive, as it would remove the ability of any lawn resident to use his or her prominent
residence as a forum to promote events, highlight activities, or show support for particular perspectives or ideas.” Read the full BOV Statement in support of Ryan.

Bacon’s bottom line: Heaphy’s argument against restricting free speech makes sense to anyone who reveres the U.S. Constitution. I just wonder how long the logic would hold up if someone posted “Blue Lives Matter” or “Make America Great Again” on a door sign on the Lawn. Can anyone be found to do such a thing? It would make an instructive experiment.
The real issue, as we’re seeing it play out across Virginia, is that some peoples’ freedom of speech matters more than others. Perhaps Mr. Heaphy could be induced to examine the Loudoun County Public School system’s draft professional conduct policy that would forbid school employees from saying anything on social media that not aligned with the School Board’s “goal to root out systemic racism.”

— JAB

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9 responses to “UVA Legal Counsel Opines on Free Speech

  1. Funny, the homeowner’s association where we live has no problems restricting signs….including real estate for sale signs, not just campaign or commercial signs. And I actually own this place, whereas the UVA student is a tenant on state-owned property. How can they do that? I signed the covenants, as indeed a student can be made to sign a code of conduct.

    She has embarrassed herself mainly, put the school in a hilariously tortured position, but at the end of the day…..eh, no big deal. One day she’ll have some job application in and will get rejected and will never know why…..

    • I don’t know, Mr. Haner, the way things have been going lately she may end up being widely recruited by Fortune 500 companies…

    • That’s the difference between the sidewalk outside the hotel lobby and the hotel lobby.

      Maybe she’s angling for a GOP job. Look at the reprehensible people currently running it.

    • To further the hotel lobby v sidewalk explanation;

      I serously doubt that a contract between a State entity and a citizen can contain a clause that requires the citizen to relinquish a Constitutional right and be deemed legal.

      Yes, your HOA, an agreement between private parties, can limit your rights. The government is reluctant to interfer in a private contract, albeit so long as it doesn’t involve illegal acts, e.g., you can’t contractually hire someone to kill you.

      But UVa is not a private party. It’s a State function, and if the State cannot pass laws to limit the free speech of a person then it cannot do so by contract.

      If they could do that, then the State could easily add a line, say, to the tax return such as “By checking this box, and signing the return, the taxpayer will receive a one-time $1000 tax credit in exchange for relinquishing any right to own a firearm.” Voila! No 2nd Amendment for you! Sure beats all of that Supreme Court challenge stuff.

  2. Why is a Fortune 500 job considered such a prize? She might be better at a startup. Steve, you are such a goodie two shoes😀

  3. Ain’t no way to suppress political speech. None, nada, no way.

    At the time of his infamous telephone salutation, “F*ck Nixon”, Jack Anderson was challenging the federal government to reveal the illegal wiretaps by intentionally violating the FCC Act of 1934 which prohibited obscenities in telephone communication (overturned in 1988). Care to think of how many times you may have dropped an F-bomb on the telephone prior to 1988?

    They may be able to stop a “F*ck VaTech!” sign, but a “F*ck Northam!” sign? Good luck with that one guys.

  4. This is how Marxism works – free speech is free speech so long as it promotes Marxist values. Hence F*** UVa is fine. Free speech is not free speech if it contradicts Marxist values. Hence, the Loudoun County teachers are prohibited by an organ of the state from expressing views that are contrary to the systemic racism / anti-racism philosophy.

    The truth is a lie and lies are the truth. Angela Davis believes that only Communism can defeat racism. A lot of Uighurs would beg to differ.

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