August 12, 2022


Let'S Talk Law

A great deal Ado About A single Dollar

U.S. Supreme Court docket making. (Diego M. Radzinschi/ALM)

In some cases a selection of the U.S. Supreme Court docket appears so unusual that it cries out for some sensible clarification as to why the courtroom took the scenario in the initial position, what constitutional theory is at stake that the courtroom sought to vindicate, and irrespective of whether there may have lurked a spectacular backstory to reveal the selection. The court’s ruling on March 7th in Uzuegbunam v. Preszewski is that form of a situation, turning a modest college free speech dispute into a pedantic discussion over whether or not the federal judiciary ought to be compelled to decide a lawsuit involving nominal damages of one dollar.

Chike Uzuegbunam, an evangelical Christian scholar at Georgia Gwinnett College or university, engaged in discussions with fascinated students at an out of doors plaza and handed out religious literature. A campus law enforcement officer knowledgeable Uzuegbunam that campus policy prohibited distributing spiritual resources in that location and ordered him to prevent. Uzuegbunam was explained to that he could speak about his faith and distribute supplies only in two designated “free speech expression locations,” which with each other make up a small spot of the campus, and only soon after securing a allow. He used for and obtained a permit to use the free speech zone, but soon after talking for 20 minutes, a further campus law enforcement officer told him to end, this time indicating that individuals experienced complained about his speech, which violated an additional campus plan mainly because it led to grievances. Uzuegbunam (later with one more scholar) sued the faculty officers in cost of enforcing the college’s speech guidelines, arguing that the policies violated the 1st Amendment. He sought an injunction and nominal damages. The higher education initially claimed that Uzuegbunam’s dialogue of his religion arguably constituted “fighting phrases,” but deserted that approach and as an alternative decided to scrap the challenged policies completely. The higher education then moved to dismiss, arguing that the go well with was moot mainly because of the coverage adjust. Uzuegbunam agreed that injunctive relief was no extended accessible but contended that the scenario was continue to alive for the reason that he also sought nominal damages. The federal district court docket dismissed, holding that a declare for nominal damages by alone was insufficient to create standing. The Eleventh Circuit affirmed, stating that a ask for for nominal damages can keep a situation alive when a human being pleads but fails to demonstrate an sum of compensatory damages, but for the reason that Uzuegbunam did not request compensatory damages, nor assert any long run harm, his plea for nominal damages could not by alone create standing.