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Wednesday, February 14, 2007

Ind. Decisions - 7th Circuit decides Vincennes University case

In Gilles v. Blanchard (SD Ind., McKinney), a 14-page opinion (which includes on p. 4 a satellite photo of the campus, as in Posner's recent opinion including a satellite photo of a downtown Indianapolis alley), Judge Posner writes:

Vincennes University, the oldest institution of higher education in Indiana (founded in 1806 by future President William Henry Harrison before Indiana was admitted to statehood)—and a public institution since its inception—has its main, and only residential, campus in the town of Vincennes (population 18,000) in southwestern Indiana. About 5,000 students, all undergraduate, are enrolled full time at the Vincennes campus.

James Gilles (“Brother Jim”) (home page http://www. thecampusministry.org/, visited Feb. 2, 2007) is a traveling evangelist—the latest in a line of Christian itinerant preachers stretching back to Saint Paul and prominent in Methodism in nineteenth-century America. Born near Vincennes, Gilles gives the following account of his salvation. * * *

The issue more simply posed is whether a university should be able to bar uninvited speakers under a policy that by decentralizing the invitation process assures nondiscrimination, and a reasonable diversity of viewpoints consistent with the university’s autonomy and right of self-governance. We have tried to explain why the Constitution does not commit a university that allows a faculty member or student group to invite a professor of theology to give a talk on campus also to invite Brother Jim and anyone else who would like to use, however worthily, the university’s facilities as his soapbox. To call the library lawn therefore a “limited designated public forum” is an unnecessary flourish. Affirmed.

Posted by Marcia Oddi on February 14, 2007 12:24 PM
Posted to Ind. (7th Cir.) Decisions