Professor must pay $17,000 for violating pro-life students’ free speech

Fresno State faculty member’s actions flagrantly violated First Amendment

A Fresno State University professor will pay $17,000 and undergo First Amendment training by Alliance Defending Freedom attorneys as part of a legal settlement after he instructed students from his class to join him in defacing and erasing a pro-life student group’s sidewalk chalk messages. On Friday, a federal court issued an order, agreed to by all parties, in the lawsuit that Fresno State Students for Life filed in May over the professor’s actions. The order prohibits the professor from interfering with the group’s expression.

Under the settlement of Fresno State Students for Life v. Thatcher, filed in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of California, public health professor Gregory Thatcher will pay $1,000 in damages to each of two club leaders and $15,000 in attorneys’ fees. He will undergo two hours of First Amendment training by ADF Center for Academic Freedom attorneys, and he has agreed to an injunction that prohibits him from interfering in future Students for Life events or directing others to do so.

In April, the Fresno State Students for Life received permission to chalk positive, life-affirming messages on the sidewalks leading to the university’s library. As its members finished chalking these messages on the morning of May 2, Thatcher confronted them—falsely alleging they could not chalk messages near the library and could only express themselves in the so-called “free speech area,” which the university had actually eliminated almost two years earlier.

After club president Bernadette Tasy explained she had the university’s permission to chalk messages in that spot, Thatcher announced that he would return to erase the messages shortly. He then recruited at least seven students from his 8 a.m. class to erase and deface the pro-life chalk messages. When Tasy reminded him that the club was acting with full permission, Thatcher walked over to one of the pro-life messages and began erasing it himself, erroneously claiming that he was exercising his free speech rights and that “college campuses are not free speech areas.”

Full story at Alliance Defending Freedom.

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  1. Having grown up in a family where criminal law was discussed at the dinner table … this guy is too stupid to breathe. Erasing the messages was Vandalism, a misdemeanor. Once he recruited students it became a Conspiracy. A conspiracy to commit a Misdemeanor is a Felony. He got off easy.

  2. What in the world does he teach?

    Looks like justice has been served:)

  3. St. Christopher says:

    Not enough. This professor will continue to act the way he does. So what if he had to pay a pittance and attend a few hours of classes? He will continue to do this kind of violation of the First Amendment, that is what Democrats do (I am certain that he did not vote for Trump). One guesses that the Democratic talking points for that day would applaud what the professor said. They simply lack any shame over not understanding the First Amendment, and certainly do not agree with it even if understood. Just look at the dopey Chris Cuomo, a Yale trained lawyer, who leads some news show and said that “hate speech” is not protected under the First Amendment. Do Democrats, and especially teachers, even care about this? And what about the…

  4. STEPHANIE Clare HART says:

    Finally! It’s sad that he has to go through “First Amendment training.” Why wasn’t he aware of this from the get go?

  5. Wonderful news.

  6. Federal court? Over sidewalk chalk writings?

  7. And, he bragged that he didn’t have to pay the $17,000 — his insurance covered it. The arrogance of the Left!

  8. What is most interesting was that he did not become violent. Such catastrophic cognitive dissonance sets up such intense inner conflict that the irrational contradictions leave no way for resolution other than violent acting out. From the looks of things, he was pretty close.

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