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Miami U. Challenges Federal Court Decision

This story was written by Kaitlyn Davidson, The Miami Student

A dismissed lawsuit against Miami University by an evangelical preacher is still being pursued after a federal district court was ordered to reconsider the case concerning First Amendment rights on campus.

James G. Gilles, a preacher known for his frequent visits to universities, was barred from Miami in October 2002 after preaching controversial sermons to students on the public campus about his Christian faith.

Gilles, referred to as Brother Jim, was told by Miami University Police that a permit was required for visitors to speak publicly on the University's grounds, and he was asked to leave.

Gilles sued Miami claiming his free-speech rights had been violated, but the case was dismissed by a federal district court.

In May, the U.S. 6th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned the lower court's dismal deeming that Miami's policy should have been investigated further to determine its fairness.

The current policy, as stated in the Miami University's Policy and Information Manual, says that, "authorization is required from the University or from a recognized student organization to make speeches or presentations, to erect displays, to engage in any commercial activity, or to conduct similar activities on University-owned or University-controlled property."

The university argues that if anyone could come on campus without permission it would be disruptive.

Miami doesn't want to limit free speech on campus, said Robin Parker, the university's general counsel.

"We want to limit what happens and where it happens," Parker said. "It's not about the speech the speech is irrelevant."

If anyone could come on campus without permission it would be disruptive, according to Parker.

The Alliance Defense Fund, a group of Christian attorneys who, according to the Web site, "are dedicated to defending and protecting religious freedom, sanctity of life, marriage, and the family" represented Gilles.

Gilles' attorney Nate Kellum could not be reached for comment.

ADF present a case that fought for Gille's constitutional rights to share his religious beliefs in public.

Miami is not the only university that Gilles has filed a lawsuit against concerning free-speech violations. In September 2006 Gilles lost a lawsuit against Murray State University, and in October 2007 the U.S. Supreme Court rejected a case involving Vincennes University.