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Court Orders Liberal Prof to Pay Hefty Fine for Violating Pro-Life Students' Free Speech

Dorothy Cummings McLean : Nov 17, 2017 : LifeSiteNews

"As our interactive map illustrates, nationwide we are seeing incredible opposition to pro-life speech as our student leaders and volunteers speak for the defenseless, reach out to pregnant women, and educate on the violence of abortion. But as this case illustrates, we are not going to be silent, even if it takes going to court." -Students for Life of America President Kristan Hawkins

(Fresno, CA) — [LifeSiteNews.com] A federal court has ruled that a Fresno State university professor must pay $17,000 in damages and undergo First Amendment training. (Photo Credit: Fresno State University professor Gregory Thatcher attempts to erase a pro-life chalk message on campus via LifeSiteNews)

Gregory Thatcher, a professor of public health, violated the free speech rights of students belonging to the Fresno State Students of Life club when he erased their pro-life chalk messages and recruited his students to do the same. After hearing Fresno State Students for Life v. William Gregory Thatcher, a federal court issued an order that forbids Thatcher from interfering with the student group's free expression.

The Fresno State Students for Life were represented by attorneys from Alliance Defending Freedom.

"No public university professor has the authority to silence any student speech he happens to find objectionable or to recruit other students to participate in his censorship," said ADF legal counsel Travis Barham. "Like all government officials, professors have an obligation to respect the constitutionally protected free speech of students. Of all people, professors should be the first to encourage all students to participate in the marketplace of ideas rather than erase the speech of those with whom they differ. The professor's actions here were wrong and flagrantly violated the First Amendment."

In April, the Fresno State Students for Life received permission from their university to chalk positive, life-affirming messages on the sidewalks outside the campus library. The chalkings expressed support for pregnant and parenting students and described the development of unborn children. On May 2, after the students finished the project, Thatcher confronted them. He told them THAT they weren't allowed to chalk the messages outside the library but had to confine them to a "free speech zone." The free zone had, in fact, been eliminated almost two years earlier…

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