Michigan State’s Nassar Settlement Could Set A Troubling First Amendment Precedent


But even if this condition will have little to no impact on the survivors, it’s both telling and troubling that MSU would even try to put this on the table. James Marsh, an attorney for victims of sexual abuse and assault and a member of CHILD USA’s independent commission looking into the institutional failures around the Nassar case, expressed his concern about this.

“That a state institution [MSU] would politically silence victims and basically pay them to give up their First Amendment rights goes way beyond the current criticism about gag orders,” he told me via text message. This condition was no ordinary “don’t talk about what’s in the settlement” demand; it’s a demand that survivors not exercise their right to petition their elected officials, which is the kind of speech that is especially protected by the First Amendment. “It’s one branch of the government censoring the ability of individuals most affected by this debacle to advocate for legislative change which will affect that branch,” he wrote.

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