Client Matters

Our Clinic students have hands-on opportunities to litigate important constitutional questions that have real-world impact. The Clinic provides legal services pro bono to clients who do not have the means to hire First Amendment lawyers to represent them.

We accept cases that provide our students with a wealth of experience in strategic legal thinking and nuanced arguments, as well as practical skills necessary to good lawyering. Student attorneys conduct fact investigation and legal research, write legal pleadings, and argue cases in court, under close supervision of Clinic faculty. Students also participate in client counseling, and draft advocacy letters and policy papers in support of our clients’ goals.

Our diverse docket seeks to protect public discourse, combat censorship and support a free press.


Protecting the “Public Square” for Dissent and Debate

The First Amendment protects the rights of individuals and groups to express themselves on public streets and sidewalks, in public meetings, and on the internet. Our students play a critical role in protecting these spaces as open for free expression.

Public Streets and Parks 

  • Our client Ross Brunet was criminally cited seven times for “obscenity on a public highway” for flying explicit anti-Biden flags off the back of his pickup truck. We helped Mr. Brunet sue the officials who continued to stop, ticket and haul him into court for months on end, putting him on trial for his protected political speech. Read more here and here 
  • We represent multiple citizens arrested for the use of megaphones at a protest in a public park in Lafayette. Our clients are challenging the use of sound ordinances to clear dissenters off of public property. Read more here. 
  • When residents of Louisiana wanted to march in opposition to a proposed constitutional amendment providing tax incentives to industrial plants, the town of Gramercy, La stopped the march by requiring a cumbersome permitting process prior to the march. Our client RISE St. James fought back and won an overhaul of the Grammercy town ordinances.   Read more here. 
  • We represented multiple individuals arrested protesting in the streets in the days following the police killing of George Floyd in 2020, working in partnership with other community lawyers to secure dismissal of all charges against the protesters.  
  • We frequently represent New Orleans street musicians and performers in protecting the streets and sidewalks of the French Quarter as places for the free expression of music and art. Street performers often face harassment by police for not paying taxes, not having an occupational license or performing past curfew. Our students consistently take up their cases and are currently litigating in Orleans Parish Civil District Court to protect a musician’s right to perform on public sidewalks.  
  • Union organizers handing Superdome employees leaflets found themselves expelled from the public sidewalks around the venue. Our students co-wrote a letter objecting to their ouster, and the organizers were permitted to continue to exercise their rights to free speech.  


  • We are representing a local woman blocked on social media by a state senator because of critical comments on Twitter. Social media is the modern version of the public square, as much political advocacy and discussion now occurs online. Our client seeks to preserve social media forums for criticism of our elected officials. Read more here.  

Public Meetings 

  • We represent two Louisiana women challenging anti-speech policies adopted by the Lafayette Parish Library Board of Control. The policies threaten arrest of individuals making offensive comments during the public comment period of the government meetings, and one woman was removed from a meeting for her comments on public matters. Government cannot censor citizen-speakers at public meetings, and our clients are pushing back. Read more here.  
  • We represented a local resident who was banned from meetings of a regional council because council leadership found his comments at public meetings disrespectful. Our students successfully secured his readmission to the meetings and his ability to comment on matters of public concern.  

Fighting Censorship

From libraries and schools to prisons and public streets, the Clinic continues to battle against government censorship and for the protection of free speech.

  • Retaliation for Criticizing the Government 

  • We represented two City workers who faced potential discipline for criticizing the City government, even off the clock. This 2022 case had a tremendous impact in protecting the free speech rights of more than 1,700 New Orleans employees and gave our students excellent, firsthand experience in litigation and negotiations. Read more. 
  • A member of a Lafayette library committee wrote a newspaper opinion piece opposing book censorship. As a result she lost her appointment to the library committee. Our students negotiated with the parish’s attorneys and won her reinstatement. Read more 
  • We represented a law professor who was charged with contempt of court by the Baton Rouge Police Department for releasing a video of Baton Rouge police strip-searching two suspects, including a youth. We partnered with a private law firm to win a preliminary injunction on the professor’s behalf, ultimately successfully settling the case. Read more.  
  • Library book restrictions: Louisianans across the state are standing up against censorship and book restrictions in public libraries.  Local residents who oppose censorship efforts in Lafayette, LivingstonSt. Tammany, and Rapides Parishes have requested our legal support. A team of our students continues to work extensively on library censorship issues, which include threats of criminal prosecution against librarians. Read more about the statewide threat here.  
  • Clothing as free expression: Our students helped support a Winnfield woman cited with “indecent exposure” because of clothing she wore to a town festival, successfully arguing that the government cannot tell a person what clothing they can wear. Read more.  
  • Defamation defense: Defamation actions are often used as a tool to silence controversial or confrontational speech, chilling the exchange of ideas in our communities. We currently represent a woman wrongly sued for defamation by a former colleague for comments posted on Facebook.  
  • Public school student speech: We have supported several Louisiana public school students and their families in pushing back against school regulations of speech on campus.  
  • We represented one family challenging a requirement that a young student stand for the Pledge of Allegiance. 
  • We provided support for the family of a student facing discipline for comments she posted on Google Classroom mentioning Black History Month. 
  • We supported another family whose children faced discipline for wearing “Black Lives Matter” facemasks to a public school during the COVID-19 pandemic.  
  • Two of our student attorneys represented high school students who were not allowed to establish a Gender and Sexualities Alliance (“GSA”) club. After several months of advocacy the high school students were allowed to launch the club, which is now in operation and on equal footing with other extracurricular offerings.

Freedom of the Press

Our team of student attorneys is at the vanguard when it comes to defending journalists’ rights to do their jobs and educating members of the American press corps about their rights. Since our inception we have represented members of the press in First Amendment concerns.

Now thanks to generous support from the Legal Clinic Fund for Local News, we also are able to represent individual journalists in lawsuits to enforce the public records law and open meetings law. We work daily with reporters around the state to support requests for public records and help navigate access to documents and government meetings.

  • Intimidation of Members of the Press: A newspaper reporter for The Baton Rouge Advocate sent the Attorney General a public records request for the sexual harassment complaints against an employee of his office. The Attorney General responded by filing suit against the reporter, seeking a declaratory judgment that he did not have to produce the records, as well as attorneys’ fees and costs against the reporter. He also filed for a gag order that would have sealed the proceedings and prohibited any party from publicly disclosing the Attorney General’s lawsuit.  Our Clinic represented several members of the media (Gray Media Group, the Louisiana Press Association, the Lens, and the Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press) in an amicus brief in the matter. The judge declined to seal the proceedings and ordered the sexual harassment complaints turned over to him in camera for redaction and public release. Read more here and here. 

  • Support for Media Sued for Defamation: Louisiana Supreme Court Justice sued a local newspaper for the content of an editorial that he argues was defamatory. We represented the Reporters’ Committee for Freedom of the Press, the Lens, and the Louisiana Press Association in a very targeted amicus brief on the issue of damages. Read more here.  

  • Access to Records: When Louisiana State University refused to release documents regarding an internal investigation of a staff member to a student journalist, we represented the student reporter in a suit to defend the freedom of the press and access to information. Read more.  

  • Open Meetings: When a student journalist at LSU was removed from a faculty Senate meeting, we intervened in her defense. Read more.  

  • Pre-publication Review: we assist journalists with review and legal advice on stories in process prior to publication.