University Rule Against ‘Disrupting’ Employees Violates 1st Amendment

MICHIGAN — A Michigan State University ordinance that made it a criminal offense to “disrupt the normal activity” of certain people at the university was struck down as unconstitutional by the state Supreme Court on July 27.

The case stems from a 2008 incident in which Jared Rapp, then a law student, sought out an employee who gave him a parking ticket and yelled at him, the Student Press Law Center reports. Rapp was sentenced to, among other things, two years of probation and 80 hours of community service for standing outside parking employee Ricardo Rego’s truck and taking cell phone photos of Rego. The parking ticket was later dismissed.

University officials said in a statement that they are “reviewing the decision with an eye toward what changes are needed to ensure the ordinance meets the Court’s ruling.” The court’s decision said the current ordinance goes too far and infringes on free speech rights.

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