Guns on University of Utah Campuses:

The state legislature enacted a law barring "state and local entities from enacting or enforcing any [rule] that in 'any way inhibits or restricts the possession or use of firearms on either public or private property.'" The University of Utah, which generally bans students and employees from carrying guns while "on campus and 'while conducting university busines off campus,'" claimed that the state law interfered with the University's autonomy (guaranteed, according to the University, by the state constitution). Not so, the Utah Supreme Court just held: The Utah Constitution, it concluded, does not give the University autonomy; like other state government entities, the University is subject to legislative control -- "the legislature has the ability to generally manage all aspects of the University."

The Utah Supreme Court did not reach the University's claimed First Amendment academic freedom right to exclude guns (on the theory that the presence of guns on campus would "hamper[] the free exchange of ideas"); that issue is being litigated in federal court, though in my view the University's argument is a sure loser. There are at least two reasons for that: (1) The state law is content-neutral (in fact, speech-neutral), and would thus be at most subject to United States v. O'Brien scrutiny, which it would easily pass. (2) Even if state institutions have First Amendment rights to be free from federally imposed speech restrictions (a matter that's unsettled), I think they have no such rights to be free from restrictions imposed by their own supervisors in the state governance structure (here, the state legislature).

Thanks to John Bogart for the pointer.