Share
News

Supreme Court Sides With Christian Student in College Free Speech Case

Share

The Supreme Court ruled in an 8-1 decision Monday that a Georgia college’s speech code policy violated the First Amendment and that a student who was harmed by the policy can seek damages.

Justice Clarence Thomas issued the opinion of the court Monday, siding with Chike Uzuegbunam, a former student at Georgia Gwinnett College, and affirming his right to share his Christian faith on campus.

The opinion reversed an Eleventh Circuit Court of Appeals decision, which said Uzuegbunam didn’t have the standing to sue the college over its policy that severely restricted his speech.

“The Supreme Court has rightly affirmed that government officials should be held accountable for the injuries they cause,” Kristen Waggoner, general counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom, said in a statement Monday.

“When public officials violate constitutional rights, it causes serious harm to the victims.”

Trending:
Republicans Call on Biden Administration to Investigate World Bank After Probe Uncovers Organization's Stunning China Ties

In 2016, Uzuegbunam was told that he needed to use one of two “speech zones,” which made up less than 1 percent of the entire campus, if he wanted to continue sharing his Christian faith on campus, according to ADF.

Uzuegbunam complied, but minutes after speaking in a reserved zone, campus police threatened him with discipline if he continued.

“School officials violated [Uzuegbunam’s] constitutional rights when they stopped him twice from speaking in an open area of campus,” Tyson Langhofer, the director of ADF’s Center for Academic Freedom, told The Daily Caller News Foundation in January.

“The only permit students need to speak on campus is the First Amendment.”

School officials ultimately accused Uzuegbunam of violating a campus speech code, which prohibited offensive speech, Langhofer said.

Georgia Gwinnett College initially defended its speech code in court after ADF sued on behalf of Uzuegbunam in 2016, but then reversed its speech policy and argued the case was moot as a result.

Thomas was joined in his opinion Monday by seven justices from across the ideological spectrum. The justices agreed that because Uzuegbunam’s rights were violated, he can sue the school and receive nominal damages.

Related:
Reporter on the Rio Grande 'Absolutely Stunned' as Masses of Migrants Ford River Into America

“It is undisputed that Uzuegbunam experienced a completed violation of his constitutional rights when respondents enforced their speech policies against him,” Thomas wrote.

Justice John Roberts issued the lone dissent.

Roberts agreed with the appeals court, which argued that because Georgia Gwinnett College changed its policy after Uzuegbunam sued, the case was moot.

“Today’s decision risks a major expansion of the judicial role,” Roberts wrote.

“Until now, we have said that federal courts can review the legality of policies and actions only as a necessary incident to resolving real disputes.”

The American Civil Liberties Union, American Humanist Association, Frederick Douglass Foundation and U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops all filed friend-of-the-court briefs in support of Uzuegbunam.

Content created by The Daily Caller News Foundation is available without charge to any eligible news publisher that can provide a large audience. For licensing opportunities of their original content, please contact licensing@dailycallernewsfoundation.org.

A version of this article appeared on The Daily Caller News Foundation website.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →



loading

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Tags:
, , , , , ,
Share
Founded by Tucker Carlson, a 25-year veteran of print and broadcast media, and Neil Patel, former chief policy adviser to Vice President Dick Cheney, The Daily Caller News Foundation is a 501(c)(3) non-profit providing original investigative reporting from a team of professional reporters that operates for the public benefit.




loading

Conversation