Lawsuit: University Official Tells Student School Policies Are Above the Constitution

By Kristine Marsh | June 5, 2014 | 3:23pm EDT

A university's Equal Opportunity officer recently told a student that the school's policies were above the constitution, a legal group contends in its lawsuit against the school.

When Christian student Daniel Harper put flyers around his Cameron University campus in Oklahoma warning fellow students that a student religious group for the "World Mission Society of God" was a cult, he says he was approached by university officials and told he could not distribute the flyers because they were "offensive" and violated the school's Equal Opportunity policy.

Harper defended his right to distribute the flyers based on the First Amendment to Equal Opportunity officer Thomas Russell, after which Russell allegedly told the student:

"I like those amendments to the Constitution. They are foundations to democracy. But that's all they are--foundations. You can't live on them. You'll freeze to death in winter and burn up in summer."

The student recounted how in a second conversation, the university official reiterated the point:

"All those federal laws are the foundations. Once you get the foundation built to live in the house, you need framework and rooms, and that is the policies and procedures [of the University]."

After a university investigation, the student was found to be guilty of violating the school's Expressive Activity Policy and Equal Opportunity Policy which ban flyers with "derogatory" and "offensive" material.

The Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) has filed a federal lawsuit on behalf of Harper. ADF contends that the student's First Amendment rights to freedom of speech were violated and student's "should not have to pre-register their speech with college officials or comply with vague speech codes to exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms."

ADF's Senior Counsel Kevin Theriot stated on their website: "Public university officials don't get to pick and choose which theological viewpoints can be expressed on campus. We hope that Cameron University will revise its policy so that all students can exercise their constitutionally protected freedoms."

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