Gerlich v. Leath

From January 2016 to August 2017
Iowa State University (Public college or university)
Ames, IA, United States

Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
    Recognized student group event
  • Incident Political Orientation:
  • Incident Responses:
  • Incident Status:
    In litigation Federal Court of Appeals
  • No protest Occured
  • Was Speech Code incident


NORML ISU is an officially recognized student organization at ISU. It is a student chapter of the national NORML organization and its purpose is to reform federal and state marijuana laws. The group was refounded in 2012. In October 2012, NORML ISU submitted a t-shirt design (T-Shirt Design #1) to the Trademark Office that had “NORML ISU” on the front with the “O” represented by Cy the Cardinal. On the back the shirt read, “Freedom is NORML at ISU” with a small cannabis leaf above “NORML.” The Trademark Office approved T-Shirt Design #1. Afterwards, a news article critical of the t-shirt design was published in a local newspaper. The administration at ISU then took action against NORML ISU in a variety of ways, instituting a review process that differed from the review process for all other student groups in terms of their t-shirt designs. The Court held that ISU engaged in impermissible viewpoint-discrimination.