NASHVILLE, Tenn.--(BUSINESS WIRE)--March 1, 1995--"The big tree in 
the forest of speech codes has fallen," the executive director of 
the Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University 
said in reaction to a California Superior Court ruling striking down 
Stanford University's speech code.

"I hope it sounds the death knell for these unconstitutional 
restrictions on open dialogue and debate in the campus community," 
Paul McMasters said Wednesday.

"Stanford University has been a pioneer in working for inclusiveness 
and sensitivity in the increasingly diverse campus community. It had 
some of the best legal minds trying to craft a speech code that did 
not violate the First Amendment, but they failed. Now college 
officials across the nation can move on to the hard work of 
eliminating hateful speech and harmful incidents on the nation's 
campuses," he said.

McMasters said speech codes simply don't work. "They entrust 
enforcement to the very institutions and individuals accused of bias 
and bigotry in the first place. More importantly, they violate both 
the spirit and the letter of the First Amendment."

Santa Clara (California) County Superior Court Judge Peter G.

Stone granted an injunction against the code so that it cannot be 
enforced. The code was enacted in 1990 in the wake of several 
incidents on the Stanford campus.

The code prohibits harassment of students on the basis of such 
factors as race, gender, sexual orientation, religion and ethnic 

Nine Stanford students, last May, filed suit, saying the speech code 
stifles discussion and violates their free speech rights.

Stone agreed, writing that the Stanford code is too broad because it 
prohibits no only so-called fighting words, which could incite 
fights, but also words or symbols that simply convey hatred or 

The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center published "War of Words: 
Speech Codes at Public Colleges and Universities." The report 
surveyed regulations of speech and expressive conduct at 383 schools 
across the country. The center will release a second edition of the 
report, which will include a look at 100 private colleges and 
universities, later this year.

The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University is 
an independent operating program of The Freedom Forum.

The center was established by The Freedom Forum, one of the nation's 
largest foundations, on Dec. 15, 1991, the 200th anniversary of the 
ratification of the Bill of Rights to the U.S. Constitution.

The First Amendment Center's mission is to foster a better public 
understanding of and appreciation for First Amendment rights and 
values, including freedom of religion, free speech and press, and 
the right to petition government and to assemble peacefully.

The Freedom Forum is a nonpartisan, international foundation 
dedicated to free press, free speech and free spirit for all people.

The foundation pursues its priorities through programs including 
conferences, educational activities, publishing, broadcasting, 
on-line services, partnerships, training and research. The Freedom 
Forum makes limited grants in connection with its programs; 
unsolicited grant applications are not accepted.

Major operating programs are The Freedom Forum Media Studies Center 
at Columbia University in New York City, The Freedom Forum First 
Amendment Center at Vanderbilt University in Nashville, Tenn., and 
The Newseum at The Freedom Forum Headquarters in Arlington, Va.

The foundations' work is supported by an endowment -- established by 
Frank E. Gannett in 1935 with $100,000 in Gannett Co.

stock -- now worth more than $700 million in diversified, managed 
assets. The foundation does not solicit or accept contributions.



The Freedom Forum First Amendment Center, Nashville

Bracey Campbell or Ellen Nelson, 615/321-9588