California Leonard Law (public colleges) (2009)

Provides that neither the University of California or the California State University systems nor any California community college district may enforce any rule that subjects a student to disciplinary sanctions if the student is engaged in conduct or speech that is protected by either the California Constitution or the First Amendment of the United States Constitution if such conduct or speech would have occurred off campus.

In 2006, in response to the 7th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeal’s 2005 decision Hosty v. Carter, the law was amended to explicitly prohibit any prior restraint of the student press. (Fortunately, the law largely duplicates protections already provided by the federal First Amendment to public college or university students in California.)

Cal. Educ. Code Section 66301. Freedom of speech; students’ remedies; hate violence

(a) Neither the Regents of the University of California, the Trustees of the California State University, the governing board of a community college district, nor an administrator of any campus of those institutions, shall make or enforce a rule subjecting a student to disciplinary sanction solely on the basis of conduct that is speech or other communication that, when engaged in outside a campus of those institutions, is protected from governmental restriction by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution or Section 2 of Article I of the California Constitution.

(b) A student enrolled in an institution, as specified in subdivision (a), at the time that the institution has made or enforced a rule in violation of subdivision (a) may commence a civil action to obtain appropriate injunctive and declaratory relief as determined by the court. Upon a motion, a court may award attorney’s fees to a prevailing plaintiff in a civil action pursuant to this section.

(c) This section does not authorize a prior restraint of student speech or the student press.

(d) This section does not prohibit the imposition of discipline for harassment, threats, or intimidation, unless constitutionally protected.

(e) This section does not prohibit an institution from adopting rules and regulations that are designed to prevent hate violence, as defined in subdivision (a) of Section 4 of Chapter 1363 of the Statutes of 1992, from being directed at students in a manner that denies them their full participation in the educational process, if the rules and regulations conform to standards established by the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and Section 2 of Article I of the California Constitution for citizens generally.

(f) An employee shall not be dismissed, suspended, disciplined, reassigned, transferred, or otherwise retaliated against solely for acting to protect a student engaged in conduct authorized under this section, or refusing to infringe upon conduct that is protected by this section, the First Amendment to the United States Constitution, or Section 2 of Article I of the California Constitution.