Young Americans for Liberty, et al. v. Trustees of Montclair State Univ., et al.

From January 2020 to June 2021
Montclair State University (Public college or university)
Montclair, New Jersey

Identity of Speakers

  • Young Americans for Liberty at Montclair State University

    Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) at Montclair State University is an affiliate of the national libertarian organization

  • Mena Botros

    Mena Botros is the President of YAL at Montclair State University

Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
  • Incident Political Orientation:
    Right wing
  • Incident Responses:
    Rally or Protests
    University administration changed university policy as a consequence
    Campus police
  • Incident Status:
  • Was Speech Code incident


On September 10, 2019, three students affiliated with the Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) at Montclair State University, an affiliate of a national libertarian organization, engaged in an on-campus protest on the issue of gun-free zones.  The three students wore orange students pretending to be prisoners and held signs mockingly in support of the ban on firearms in certain areas, with their underlying message being that gun-free zones only benefit criminals.  Campus police ordered the students to leave per Montclair State University’s Policy requiring permission from the dean’s office at least two weeks in advance of any planned protest.  The Policy also granted discretion to the University to deny permission indefinitely and for “any reason.”

On January 15, 2020, attorneys from the Alliance Defending Freedom, a Christian organization “committed to protecting religious freedom, free speech, marriage and family, parental rights, and the sanctity of life,” brought suit against the Trustees of Montclair State University on behalf of YAL at Montclair State, asserting that the aforementioned speech and protest Policy “imposes an unconstitutional prior restrain on all students.”

The lawsuit also sought relief regarding the University’s student organization regulations which delegates the the Student Government Association (SGA) “unbridled discretion to grant privileges and financial benefits from mandatory student fees based on an organization’s ‘Class’.”  It is noted in the lawsuit that the class determination “explicitly requires the SGA to scrutinize a student organization’s viewpoint and the consent of its speech.”  Furthermore, the suit also sought remedy as it relates to the University’s Bias Education Response Taskforce (BERT), which the suit alleges is a body created “to punish so-called ‘bias incidents’ (i.e., ‘conduct, speech or expression that is motivated by bias or prejudice’).”  The suit alleged that the term “bias incidents’ is so broadly defined “that it encompasses protected speech on important social and political discussions in which Plaintiffs regularly engage.”

On June 16, 2021, parties entered into a settlement agreement.  The University agreed to eliminate its two-week advanced permission requirement for on-campus demonstrations, to abolish the BERT, to replace the existing “Class” system regulated by the SGA, and to pay $42,000 to Plaintiffs’ attorneys.