On January 26, the Liberty Justice Center filed an appeal on behalf of Tim Tizon, an Arizona State University student who was arrested and convicted of trespassing for distributing copies of the U.S. Constitution to his fellow students on campus. A member of his university’s Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) student organization, Tizon set up a small, foldable table with his organization’s logo in the North Plaza on ASU’s Tempe campus. Out of the way of major foot traffic, he handed out pamphlet copies of the Constitution to students passing by, but then was approached by University officials, who told him his setup violated the ASU reservation policy. When Tim refused to move to an isolated location designated as a “free speech zone,” the officials arrested him for trespassing and forcibly removed him from the location.
Tizon was convicted in University Lakes Justice Court and ordered to pay a fine and perform community service. He is now appealing to the Maricopa County Circuit Court with pro bono representation from the Liberty Justice Center, a national free-speech law firm.
“Universities are supposed to be the epicenter of the marketplace of ideas,” said Tizon. “ASU has let me down and every other student too by placing its bureaucracy ahead of our First Amendment rights.”
“This attempt by the university speech police to shut down public discourse on campus violates our most basic American principles,” said Daniel Suhr, managing attorney at the Liberty Justice Center and counsel for Tizon’s appeal. “Students’ free speech rights are guaranteed in Arizona law and the U.S. Constitution, and universities are obligated to respect those rights in the classroom and on the campus green.”
Tizon distributed the Constitutions at the behest of Young Americans for Liberty, a national organization of student activists with chapters across the country, including at ASU. Focused on identifying youths from around the U.S. to advance a pro-liberty philosophy throughout college and beyond, YAL stands against the mistreatment of its members. Tizon was a member of ASU’s YAL chapter and was representing them when he was arrested in the North Plaza.
“College bureaucrats often try to defend their unconstitutional speech and assembly by appealing to a need for order. By pressing charges against Tim Tizon simply for hosting a Constitution table, Arizona State has shown that their real concern is control,” said JP Kirby, the Director of Student Rights at Young Americans for Liberty. “We hope that the courts stand with Tim against ASU’s attack on student speech and assembly. We’re committed to fighting for students at Arizona State and elsewhere so that no activist feels they have to risk arrest in the public square for sharing their beliefs with their classmates.”
The Liberty Justice Center is working to reverse Tizon’s conviction so others like him never live in fear that they will be silenced on their campuses.
The Liberty Justice Center’s filings in the case are available here.