Federal judge overturns University of Texas leafleting ban

\nTEXAS – The University of Texas at Austin cannot ban outsiders\nfrom distributing leaflets at an off-campus university building,\nbut the university can halt leaflet distribution at an on-campus\ncommon area, a federal district judge ruled in 1998.

Four members of an environmental activist group brought suit\nagainst the university, alleging their constitutional rights were\nviolated when they were prohibited from passing out leaflets to\npeople attending a privately sponsored convention held at a university-owned,\noff-campus center in 1996.

In the court’s decision, Judge Sam Sparks ruled that the inability\nto clearly distinguish between the city-owned sidewalk outside\nthe center and the center’s property itself requires that the\nentire paved area outside the center be considered a public forum\nfor speech purposes.

Sparks also ruled, however, that the university could bar leafleters\nfrom distributing literature at an on-campus plaza area, saying\nthat the school had legitimate concerns that opening its West\nMall area to outsiders could significantly increase the chances\nof unwanted litter and disruption.n center be considered a public\nforum for speech purposes.