If Georgia Gwinnett College wanted to cultivate greater unity in its use of both”free speech zones,” it triumphed prompting a near unanimous Supreme Court in ruling against it in favour of free speech nowadays. The Court voted 8-1 that two former students should have the ability to sue for nominal or symbolic compensation to avoid mootness in their own challenges.
For the record, I have been a longtime critic of”free speech zones” that many administrators and professors pushed to restrict the capacity of groups and individuals to speak on campus. This situation calls for Chike Uzuegbunam, a former Georgia Gwinnett College pupil who desired to discuss his religious views with different students. He was prevented two by campus authorities in 2016 out of handing out religious literature. He was told by the manager of the college’s Office of Student Integrity that he needed to make an application to get a license and confine his speech to 2 specified”free speech saying places.” Yet, when Uzuegbunam received a license, he was again prevented from talking because a safety office informed him that students had complained that he was disturbing the peace.
Georgia Gwinnett College seemed to grasp for some claim to keep the students from talking. It said that their speech constituted incitement akin to”fighting words.” It then removed the policies and sought to dismiss the suits as moot. It is a frequent routine where universities will induce students or professors to proceed to court and later drop the instances when it is apparent that they might lose.
The Supreme Court has now said . Literally. Nominal damages are enough to allow citizens to litigate the lack of free speech rights.
Associate Justice Clarence Thomas wrote in Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski who”, it is undisputed that Uzuegbunam undergone a completed breach of his constitutional rights when respondents enforced their speech policies . Because’every breach [of a right] imports harm,’ nominal damages can fix Uzuegbunam’s harm even when he cannot or chooses to not measure that harm in economic terms.”
Roberts disregarded the interest in vindicating such faith and insisted that if plaintiffs requested for a buck for damages, they should only be given a buck and sent in their way:”Moving forward, the judiciary will be asked to conduct this function each time a plaintiff asks for a buck. For those who want to understand if their rights are violated, the least dangerous branch will soon grow to be the least expensive source of legal advice.”
His approach would continue to let universities and other things to avoid liability because all that has been missing was address and not something more tangible like a scooter or even a scanner.
Thomas disagreed with Roberts on the historic treatment of nominal damages by figures like Justice Story and further noted:
This rule developed in common law is unsurprising in the light of their noneconomic rights which individuals had at that moment. A contrary rule could have meant, oftentimes, that there was no treatment at all for all those rights, such as due process or voting rights, which were not readily reducible to monetary valuation. … By permitting plaintiffs to pursue nominal damages if they suffered a private legal harm, the frequent law prevented the oddity of all privileging small-dollar financial rights over important, but not easily quantifiable, nonpecuniary rights.
This is a superb choice for the vindication of free speech.
Here is the view: Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski