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From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia

The Leonard Law is a California law passed in 1992 that applies the First Amendment to the United States Constitution to private colleges and universities. The law also applies Article I, Section 2 of the California Constitution to private colleges and universities. California is the only state to grant First Amendment protections to students at private postsecondary institutions. Attempts at a federal Leonard Law and for Leonard Laws in other states have not succeeded.



Republican State Senator Bill Leonard wrote the law to require private colleges and universities to protect their students' rights to freedom of speech "and other communication" that the government is required to protect for all of its citizens. Under the terms of the law, students may file civil lawsuits to seek injunctive and declaratory relief against their institutions; students may also recover any attorney's fees related to the case.


On May 2, 1994, Stanford Law School student Robert J. Corry and eight other Stanford University students filed the first lawsuit under the Leonard Law, claiming that Stanford's speech code violated the law. On February 27, 1995, Santa Clara County Superior Court Judge Peter G. Stone issued the ruling in Corry v. Stanford that struck down the speech code as a violation of the Leonard Law.

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