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Interesting New University Student Speech Case:

It's Murakowski v. University of Delaware, and it holds that a student's Web page posts of apparently satirical (though largely in pretty bad taste) stories about sex, relationships, rape, and other things was constitutionally protected, and the university couldn't discipline the student for them. FIRE reports that Murakowski was originally investigated by the university under a speech code that applied to "[a]ny instance that is perceived by those involved as being racist, sexist, anti-Semitic, homophobic, or otherwise oppressive"; but by the time the case went to court, the only questions were whether Murakowski's speech fell within the "true threats" exception to First Amendment protection, or whether it otherwise caused sufficient disruption to justify its punishment. The court said no on both counts.

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John (mail):
Thankfully, the courts seem to be getting more involved in this sort of stuff.

It is amazing that the nation survived the 200+ years or so before speech codes forced students to be nice to each other.
9.9.2008 4:03pm
Ex-Fed (mail) (www):
I found the failure of a wide variety of coeds to recognize my magnificence to be "otherwise oppressive." Can I get a nunc pro tunc?
9.9.2008 4:15pm
J. Aldridge:
Did Congress make some law here?
9.9.2008 4:18pm
Hoosier:
that is perceived by those involved

(((Shudder)))
9.9.2008 4:25pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
This is a very good precedent. There's something of a trend of schools punishing students for off-campus speech (there's even a little of that in the "Bong Hits for Jesus" case, though the Court kind of finessed the issue), and it's nice to see some judicial pushback.
9.9.2008 4:30pm
Malvolio:
Did Congress make some law here?
Well, the Delaware General Assembly made laws funding the University. Since the taxpayers are paying for it, that means that the First and Fourteenth Amendments apply.
9.9.2008 4:46pm
one of many:
[sarcasm} More Wiki justice (footnote2, page 6- footnote 5, page 8 [sotto voice]although it interesting that there no credit for footnote6 [/sotto voice]- of the holding), where will this end?{/sarcasm]

technically it was not off-campus M. Esper. Interesting, but completely acceptable and I don't see any new ground in the ruling. The action by the university in the emergency suspension and the reaction of the complaining students is troubling however, goodness I hope that young woman who had to enter counseling from reading those writings is never exposed to Juliet.
9.9.2008 4:54pm
Dilan Esper (mail) (www):
one of many:

I realize the issues on off-campus / on-campus are somewhat complicated, and I will admit I favor a different rule than the one that prevails in the courts.

(Personally, I would say that anything that doesn't appear on a school website, occur in person on a school campus, or occur during the participation a school-sponsored or school-assigned project or activity or class or event would constitute off-campus speech. But I know that is not now the law.)
9.9.2008 5:34pm
Dave N (mail):
Another Palin post?

(You see, Sarah Palin defeated Gov. Frank Murkowski, whose last name is similar to the Plaintiff in this case....Oh, never mind)

Seriously, Maciej Murakowski seems like a first class jerk--and perhaps mentally disturbed. But that said, even first class jerks who are mentally disturbed have First Amendment rights.

I agree with the magistrate judge's analysis.
9.9.2008 7:09pm
JRD (mail):
You've gotta love an opinion that defines bukkake in a footnote.

I'm confused by the court's short attention to the disciplinary issue. Although all of the discipline and restrictions (which the plaintiff later violated) stemmed from the improper restriction on speech, the court dismisses with one sentence the import that the original imposition of punishment was wrong and upholds the punishment for subsequent violation of the restriction as proper.

The message to the university is violate the 1st Amendment all you want, so long as you can get the student on a technical violation after you suppress his speech, we'll just give you a symbolic slap on the wrist.
9.10.2008 12:59pm
one of many:
JRD, I believe the court was considering (and I agree with them) that the suspension was most analogous to a restraining order. Even though it may latter be shown that a restraining was based upon incorrect facts the violation of an properly issued retaining order is itself still an offense. The suspension was not a punishment for the statements but a precautionary measure taken in the investigatory stage. I do however think they botched the analysis of the violation of the suspension and there was an issue (mens re, whether or not Murakowski reasonably believed that his entry into the dormitory to provide another student with access to his dorm room was not a violation of the order that he not use his dorm room) which was subject to dispute (but I have problems with many summary judgments, I disagree with the standard standards for summary judgment).
9.10.2008 4:59pm