By Louis K. Bonham
After almost a year, United States federal district Judge Lee Yeakel has finally ruled on the motions to dismiss a lawsuit filed by three University of Texas-Austin professors challenging Texas’s “campus carry” law. To the surprise of no one except the insufferably deluded, Judge Yeakel has dismissed the case.
His opinion found that the plaintiffs lacked standing. Here’s the nub of the ruling:
Plaintiffs cannot establish standing by “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.”
In other words, they didn’t demonstrate that they had suffered any actual injury at the hands of the defendants that would be redressable by a favorable decision.
Here’s the plaintiffs’ claim:
Plaintiffs allege that “classroom discussion will be narrowed, truncated, cut back, cut off’ by the allowance of guns in the classroom. One professor avers in an affidavit that the “possibility of the presence of concealed weapons in a classroom impedes my and other professors’ ability to create a daring, intellectually active, mutually supportive, and engaged community of thinkers.” Plaintiffs do not specify a subject matter or point of view they feel they must eschew as a result of the Campus Carry Law and Campus Carry Policy, or point to a specific harm they have suffered or will suffer as a result of the law and policy. Rather, the chilling effect appears to arise from Plaintiffs’ subjective belief that a person may be more likely to cause harm to a professor or student as a result of the law and policy.
Not surprisingly, the court found that even accepting this claim as true was a legally insufficient basis for standing. Indeed, while the court didn’t mention it, the professors’ claims that they actually and truly feared their students appears to have been factually bogus in the first place.
As I previously reported, in speaking at the infamous “Cocks not Glocks” demonstration on the UT campus, plaintiff professor Mia Carter admitted that “I’m not afraid of my students. I’m afraid for my students.” Professor Carter should count herself lucky that Judge Yeakel didn’t publically call her out for her disingenuous position to the contrary.
None of the legal findings in Judge Yeakel’s ruling should come as a great surprise; indeed, he properly took the narrow procedural way of disposing of the case rather than addressing the actual merits (or lack thereof) of the lawsuit. Nevertheless, despite some less-than stellar-lawyering by UT’s counsel, this case was a farce from the beginning. The only surprise is that Judge Yeakel took as long as he did to throw it out.