NEIU Professor's Court Victory Blocks Anti-Activist Use of Illinois Law
In a victory for free speech, activism, and education rights, an Illinois appellate court supported the free speech rights of a Chicago professor after her university tried to slander her using an Illinois law intended to shield citizens from powerful interests.
Loretta Capeheart, a professor of justice studies at Northeastern Illinois University (NEIU), defended two NEIU students who were arrested for antiwar organizing on campus. Capeheart was singled out for her activism, and was sued by NEIU officials using the Illinois Citizens Participation Act (ICPA). The ICPA was intended to protect citizens from being sued by powerful interests to force their silence, but NEIU sued Capeheart claiming the ICPA as its defense, thus threatening the very core of the law.
On September 16, 2013, the Appellate Court of Illinois, First Judicial District, sided with Capeheart, affirming her right to free speech and absolving her of court fees approaching $80,000. Activists in Illinois can likewise claim a win, since a defeat would have set a chilling precedent against grassroots political activism. Read press release | Read court ruling
Previous Chicago Indymedia coverage: From The Trenches radio interview with Loretta Capeheart | Ozzie Guillen, Free Speech, and the Case of Loretta Capeheart