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Lawyers for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) and Princeton University this week argued a case before the New jersey Supreme Court to determine whether a university has the right to exclude outside political activists from its campus.
The case concerns a Labor Party member charged with trespassing when he distributed leaflets outside one of Princeton's dining halls in the spring of 1978.
Princeton rules required outsiders wishing to conduct activities on campus to obtain a student or faculty sponsor and permission from the administration, J. Anderson Brown Jr., Princeton's dean of student affairs, said yesterday. He said the policy resulted in the exclusion of most outsiders.
Princeton modified its policy after the case went to court. Brown said uninvited groups must still receive permission from his office to visit the campus, but he added that scheduling conflicts would be the only reason to exclude a group.
Princeton's lawyers, arguing for the state, said the campus in private property and the university has a right to choose who will have access to that property.
ACLU lawyers for the Labor Party said no institution should have the right to determine whether or not to grant First Amendment rights.
"Princeton is saying 'It's my house--you can't come in.' We're saying that Princeton acts enough like a state so that it should comply with the rules of a state," Jerrold Kamensky, a lawyer acting for the ACLU, said yesterday.
He said Princeton has the same responsibility as the state not to infringe on the right to free speech within its community because it feeds and houses students and has opened its campus to the public.
But Nicholas D. Katzenbach, the lawyer representing Princeton, said yesterday outsiders intruding on university property violate Princeton's right to freely choose its associations.
If either group appeals the State Supreme Court's decision, which is expected in several months, the case will go to the U.S. Supreme Court and would affect Harvard's policy.
Archie C. Epps III, dean of students, said yesterday outsiders may not hold activities of any kind on campus, although "College students may hand out anything they want."
Kamensky said the New Jersey Supreme Court is liberal and seems to be "well-disposed to our case," but added that, it the ACLU loses, "there is a risk factor involved in going to the more conservative Supreme Court."
Because the state brought the original trespassing suit to court, the university may not be able to appeal without the state's approval.
Thomas H. Wright Jr.. Princeton's university counsel, told the Daily Princetonian this week it is "very likely" that, if permitted, Princeton would appeal a negative decision.
However, Katzenbach said that he doesn't expect to lose the case for the university. "I think the law on the whole matter is very clear," he added.
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