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Gerlich et al v. Leath et al

Case Summary: 4:14-cv-264-JEG-HCA

Plaintiffs, Paul Gerlich and Erin Furleigh, both students at Iowa State University (ISU), bring an action against Defendants Steven Leath, president of ISU, and other co-defendants for an alleged violation of Plaintiff’s rights to free speech. Plaintiffs are members of the National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Laws (NORML) chapter at ISU. This organization advocates for reform of existing laws of states legalizing the recreational use of marijuana for responsible adults. It does so by promotions, hosting events, student outreach, and other activities. Plaintiffs sought to create t-shirts to raise awareness of NORML and its political messages. The t-shirts would be made available for purchase on the ISU campus. Defendants denied approval of the t-shirt designs. Plaintiffs brought this action to enjoin ISU from denying distribution of the t-shirts on campus, based on organiztion's First Amendment right to free speech. 

In this video, the Court hears oral arguments on a Motion to Dismiss brought by Defendants. Defendants allege that Plaintiffs have no legal basis to bring this action because Defendants have a right to protect the school image. Plaintiffs oppose this allegation, claiming a First Amendment violation.  Both parties offer case law to further support their positions to the Court.  The Court will come to a decision at a future date.

Case Highlights

  • Complaint filed 7/1/2014 (Doc #1)
  • Motion to Dismiss filed 9/4/2014 (Doc #9)

Case-related documents, including those referenced above, are available via the Public Access to Court Electronic Records (PACER) service. For more information, visit

Gerlich et al v. Leath et al
Gerlich et al v. Leath et al
Gerlich et al v. Leath et al, 4:14-cv-264-JEG-HCA, Civil Rights / Motion to Dismiss, 11/19/2014, 9:00 AM (CST), U.S. District Courthouse, Des Moines, IA, Chief Judge James E. Gritzner presiding.

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