Hot Air- That gasp heard after this ruling dropped comes from every college and university with a “free speech zone” and policies that impose heckler’s vetoes. Plaintiffs suing over restrictions on speech and religious expression on campus only need to establish “nominal damages” to gain standing, the Supreme Court ruled in an 8-1 decision, not necessarily actual damages. That opens up a vast new field of litigation that attorneys all across the country will rush to meet.
The 8-1 ruling in Uzuegbunam v Preczewski from Justice Clarence Thomas does not actually settle the case in favor of the students, but the writing is on the wall for Georgia Gwinnett College.
Normally, a plaintiff would have to establish at least some level of real damages to have standing in a lawsuit. Thomas rules here, and gets a surprising amount of consensus, that the violation of a core constitutional right is essentially enough of real damage to grant standing.
After this ruling on Uzuegbunam, it should have colleges and universities very, very worried — and might be the first real set of consequences for Academia after decades of forcing speech codes and silence on their students. Just the added risk of ending up in federal court might be enough of an incentive to force these universities and colleges to recalculate risk and reward.
Let’s hope that recalculation comes quickly, and both dissent and religious expression return to campuses as fast as possible.
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