Van Tuinen v. Yosemite Community College District

From September 2013 to March 2014
Modesto Junior College (Public college or university)
Modesto, CA, United States

Identity of Speakers

  • Robert Van Tuinen

    Robert Van Tuinen was a student at Modesto Junior College.


Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
  • Incident Political Orientation:
  • Incident Responses:
    University administration invoked formal speech code in response
  • Incident Status:
  • Did not involve Speech Codes


Robert Van Tuinen was a student at Modesto Junior College. On September 17, 2013—Constitution Day—Van Tuinen attempted to distribute copies of the United States Constitution to students on campus. He was barred from doing so by a campus police officer and college administrator, who told him that he would be allowed to distribute his message only in a designated “free speech zone” that occupies a small part of the campus, and only after scheduling his planned activity several days or weeks ahead of time.

On October 10, 2013, Van Tuinen filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California against the Yosemite Community College District and various college administrators, alleging § 1983 violations of his First and Fourteenth Amendment rights and his rights under the California State Constitution. On March 5, 2014, Van Tuinen settled the lawsuit after the defendants revisited its policies to allow free expression in the open areas of campus and paid Van Tuinen $50,000 for his legal expenses.