Judge rules TX profs can't substantiate campus carry 'fears'
A federal judge in Texas has dismissed a lawsuit from three professors who claimed that campus carry made them afraid to discuss controversial issues in class, lest a student rebut them with gunfire.
The three University of Texas at Austin professors who filed the lawsuit, Lisa Moore, Jennifer Lynn Glass, and Mia Carter all claimed that the law would infringe on their First Amendment rights in the classroom by making them fearful of discussing controversial issues, according to The Texas Tribune.
"Plaintiffs present no concrete evidence to substantiate their fears."
U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel, however, stated in his decision that the professors “present no concrete evidence to substantiate their fears,” but instead rest on "mere conjecture about possible...actions.”
The campus carry law allows students who are 21 years or older and have a concealed carry license to carry their handgun with them on most areas on campus, and the professors had sought to have it overturned.
“Plaintiffs ask the court to find standing based on their self-imposed censoring of classroom discussions caused by their fear of the possibility of illegal activity by persons not joined in this lawsuit,” Yeakel summarized their complaint, determining that "simply claiming that they experienced a 'chilling effect' that resulted from a governmental policy that does not regulate, constrain, or compel any action on their part” is not a valid legal argument.
Renea Hicks, the attorney representing the professors, objected to the dismissal of the lawsuit, saying Yeakel had not addressed every objection raised by her clients.
"We had other claims in the lawsuit beyond that—a Second Amendment claim, an equal protection claim,” she told the Tribune. “The order accompanying his dismissal doesn't seem to address those issues, so there's a bit of confusion on our part."
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton, on the other hand, exulted in the ruling, which he had previously lambasted as “frivolous” last August, confidently predicting that it would eventually be dismissed.
"The court’s ruling today is the correct outcome," Paxton’s office said in a statement. "The fact that a small group of professors dislike a law and speculate about a ‘chilling effect’ is hardly a valid basis to set the law aside."
Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @asabes10