Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Iowa State NORML group can use ISU logo, court rules

Appeals court rules marijuana legalization group can use Iowa State logo - Jake New, Inside Higher Ed:

February 14, 2017 - "Iowa State University cannot bar a student group from using the university’s logo and mascot on T-shirts advocating the legalization of marijuana, a federal appeals court ruled Monday.

"The lawsuit, sponsored by the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education as part of its Stand Up for Free Speech Litigation Project, was filed by two former Iowa State students in 2014. At the time, the students were officers with the university's chapter of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws. They had repeatedly sought permission to use the Iowa State logo alongside a cannabis leaf on their shirts, but their requests were denied, with the university saying it did not want to appear to be endorsing the group’s agenda.

"But the court's opinion noted that the university allows 800 other student groups to use the logo, including organizations with differing political viewpoints, such as the Iowa State Democrats and the ISU College Republicans....

"The university had originally allowed the group to use its logo and mascot on the shirts, until ...  local politicians pressured the university to revoke its approval of the T-shirts. One such email came from the governor's office.... [T]he university ...suddenly prohibited 'designs that suggest promotion of dangerous, illegal or unhealthy products, actions or behaviors,' or 'drugs and drug paraphernalia that are illegal or unhealthful'....

"Two of the group’s officers sought FIRE's help in suing the university ... after attempts to handle the conflict internally, including submitting several other designs, failed.... Last year, a federal court ... ruled that Iowa State had discriminated against the group and violated the First Amendment. Iowa State chose to appeal, but Monday’s ruling by the higher court reaffirms the initial decision. John McCarroll, a university spokesman, said Iowa State is reviewing the appellate court’s decision and has not decided yet whether to appeal again.

"Monday’s ruling is another win for FIRE’s Stand Up for Free Speech project, in which the organization supports students looking to sue colleges over First Amendment issues.
Four of the project’s initial six lawsuits have ended in settlements."

Read more: https://www.insidehighered.com/news/2017/02/14/appeals-court-rules-marijuana-legalization-group-can-use-iowa-state-logo
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