The College Fix

Arizona Drops Charges Against ASU Student Arrested for Handing out Constitution

May 26, 2023

(The College Fix)—The state of Arizona has dropped all charges against former Arizona State University student Tim Tizon, the Liberty Justice Center recently confirmed to The College Fix.

As an Arizona State University student and member of Young Americans for Liberty, Tizon was arrested and charged with criminal trespass in the third degree for distributing copies of the U.S. Constitution outside the ASU Memorial Union early last year.

“We’re glad the state has dropped the charges, but this never should have happened,” President Jacob Huebert of the Liberty Justice Center told The Fix via email.

“We are glad that these charges were dismissed against him, but we need Arizona State to change its policies to make it clear that you can exercise your free speech rights without worrying about getting arrested or having a [criminal] record,” he said.

Tizon, a student at the time of the incident, was arrested by the ASU Police Department on March 3, 2022.

In January of this year, Liberty Justice Center, which represents Tizon, appealed the conviction.

A brief in his defense argued that the Arizona Forum Act defines all public areas of the ASU campus as public forums in which students are free to express their own message, even controversial ones.

Following his arrest, Tizon said through his attorneys: “Universities are supposed to be the epicenter of the marketplace of ideas.”

“ASU has let me down and every other student too by placing its bureaucracy ahead of our First Amendment rights.” This week, Tizon said he was “elated” when he heard that Arizona dropped the charges.

“I was being wrongly prosecuted by the state of Arizona and Arizona State University for over a year just for handing out copies of the United States Constitution,” he told Fox News in an interview.

“Really it is just the university bureaucrats naming a policy because they didn’t agree with what I was handing out — the United States Constitution. They will throw any policy in your face if they don’t agree with you,” Tizon added.

In 2016, Arizona Governor Doug Ducey signed two free speech bills prohibiting colleges and universities from restricting students to tiny speech spaces or “free speech zones.”

In addition, the act requires that any restrictions on the nature of speech must be “necessary to achieve a compelling governmental interest” and “the least restrictive means to further that compelling government interest.”

All witnesses who testified to Tizon’s actions confirmed that the table did not block pedestrians nor interfere with other groups, his attorneys had argued, adding university officials disregarded their own policy, unlawfully restricting Tizon’s freedom of expression.

Tizon had been ordered to pay a fine and perform community service.

“Arizona State has used its speech and assembly restrictions to harass activists such as Tim for years,” JP Kirby, director of student rights at YAL, said in a statement.

“ASU officials showed how much more the school values its own bureaucratic processes than the freedom of its students. I’m glad to see the state acknowledge that Tim’s rights outweigh the school’s desire to prosecute a student trying to share the Constitution with his classmates,” Kirby said.

Huebert said the Liberty Justice Center has informed ASU that if it does not adapt its policies, the firm will file a lawsuit challenging ASU’s campus policies.

“We expect ASU to change its policies to make clear that all students can exercise their free-speech rights without fear of being arrested or charged with a crime,” Huebert told The Fix.