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PAUL TRIBLE, president of Christopher Newport University in Newport News, has some resume: assistant U.S. attorney, commonwealth's attorney, member of the U.S. House of Representatives, U.S. senator. In each position, he swore to uphold the U.S. Constitution. Does Mr. Trible still consider those oaths binding? Perhaps not, judging by the way the document's First Amendment is getting roughed up on the CNU campus.
With five days' notice, GOP vice presidential nominee Paul Ryan--serial political pilgrim to our little swing state--on Tuesday held an indoor rally at CNU. Student groups including the Feminist Alliance and the Gay Straight Student Union wanted to hold an anti-Ryan demonstration. But the college requires 10 business days' notice of such protest, and it refused to grant the students an exemption.
State institutions can curb speech and assembly rights with reasonable "time, place, and manner" limits. But even a one-gallus JP would understand that there's nothing reasonable about precluding timely protests on public property and treating students seeking to exercise basic liberties like serfs on a manor, to be accommodated in the lord's sweet time.
The Virginia ACLU is on the case. Good. Mr. Trible should not need its goading, however, to bring CNU into line with the letter and the spirit of the First Amendment he vowed to defend.