The Supreme Court of the United States recently ruled that colleges cannot stop students from expressing free speech on campus, including when the student does not suffer significantly due to the suppression.
In 2016, a student who attended Gwinnett College, Chike Uzuegbunam, was handing out Christian literature on college grounds. A college police officer stopped Uzuegbunam from doing so and told him that he would need to conduct this activity in a free speech zone on campus.
Later, the student reserved the free speech zone and handed out the religious literature once more. Campus police once more stopped him because he was speaking loudly about his faith.
Uzuegbunam then filed a lawsuit against the college, arguing that his free speech and right to express religion had been violated.
Misbar’s investigation shows that Uzuegbunam’s lawsuit lead the college to change its policies, meaning that students would not be stopped from expressing opinions on campus.
However, Uzuegbunam then took the case to the U.S. Supreme Court, arguing that he had sustained “nominal damages” over what had happened, meaning that the college would only pay $1 if it was found guilty.
On the 8th of March, 2021, the Supreme Court ruled in favor of Uzuegbunam, arguing that the symbolic claim was still valid.
The Supreme Court Justices ruled 8 to 1 for Uzuegbunam, showing that students can sue their colleges for impeding their free speech, even if that impediment only causes minor damages to the student.