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SCOTUS: College Student's Career Threatened by Official Speech Police


WASHINGTON, DC: Yet another college has silenced a conservative student. This time, a graduate medical student at the University of New Mexico posted opinions on Facebook that were critical of the Obama administration and abortion. University officials threatened expulsion, required him to undergo ethics training, and made a note of the “incident” on his medical residency applications, putting his future career at risk. All this because the college deemed his post “inflammatory.”

The student’s First Amendment lawsuit has made its way to the Supreme Court, where SLF filed an amicus curiae brief asking the Court to hear the case in Hunt v. Board of Regents of the University of New Mexico. Speech codes like this one are problematic because students have no way of knowing what will count as inflammatory. They often choose to remain silent rather than risk offending their peers, because the consequences that follow could have a negative impact on their college experience and future career. That is exactly what happened to the New Mexico student; he took the risk, and he paid the price.

Too often, college officials use their broad, subjective power to shut down speech that is too political or offensive. Then, they skirt accountability for their unconstitutional actions by claiming immunity, as the University of New Mexico officials did here. It is time the Supreme Court stop granting immunity to these officials and start holding them accountable to their duty of raising future leaders who are exposed to all ideas—good, bad, or “inflammatory.”

Photo courtesy of Campusreform.org

Click here for SCOTUS amicus brief

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