Not content to sit back and allow Texas’s new campus carry law to take effect without demonstrating their outrage and righteous indignation, a group of University of Texas perfessers filed a lawsuit in federal court asking for a preliminary injunction against the idea of adults exercising a constitutional right in the rarified halls of academe. Now, Attorney General Ken Paxton has filed his response. Here’s a highlight:
Plaintiffs raise only two claims: (1) allowing licensed adults to conceal carry in classrooms violates Plaintiffs’ First Amend- ment right to academic freedom; and (2) Plaintiffs’ Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protec- tion is violated because there is no rational basis to treat public universities differently from private universities or to allow handguns in classrooms while prohibiting them from other areas of campus.
Neither claim is likely to succeed. Their First Amendment claim fails for five reasons: (1) they have no individual constitutional right to academic freedom; (2) their alleged violation of their right to academic freedom is not fairly traceable to state action; (3) the alleged state action is indirect and content-neutral; (4) there is no objectively reasonable effect on Plaintiffs’ academic freedom by allowing licensed adults to conceal carry handguns in a classroom; (5) any alleged effect on their right to academic freedom is justified by an important government interest.
Plaintiffs’ Equal Protection claim fares no better: it is eminently rational for the State to treat public and private institutions differently (as the State does in countless other areas of the law) and to allow handguns in certain areas of a college campus while prohibiting them in others (because doing so still achieves the goal of generally permitting conceal carry on campuses).
There’s a hearing scheduled for this afternoon at 2:00p. A friend with plenty of knowledge of federal jurisprudence expects UT alum and G.W. Bush appointee District Judge Lee Yaekel will show the plaintiffs the door, but we’ll see how this plays out. Stay tuned.