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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.

[h/t LKB]

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  1. This appears to boil down to “court should invite plaintiffs to just shut the fuck up, already.”

  2. If the court acts as is normal, it will dismiss with leave to amend, i.e., agree that the case states no valid claim, but allowing the Profs a second bite at the apple. The court would have to be convinced that there is no possibility that the profs could state a valid claim before it would be appropriate to dismiss the case without leave to amend.

    • Mark, in your experience as a lawyer, how frequently have AG’s injected their opinion into a court case prior to the court making a finding on a case?

      This seems unusual (at least to me).

      • DG, I expected the AG to defend the state’s action at this point in the case, so this is not unusual. It would have been unusual for the AG to have done otherwise.

        • That would make sense. It’s the state that passed the law, and the law itself is at issue.

          If it had been some private entity, then I’d think the AG would normally stay butted-out.

        • OK. Maybe it is because I’ve had to live through nearly eight years of Obama’s AG not defending the laws of the US that the Texas AG’s actions seem unusual.

        • Paxton is not injecting his opinion. The language cited is from the Response filed with the court to the Plaintiff professors’ motion for a restraining order.

        • OK, then that explains everything.

          The plaintiffs decided to play stupid games, and now they’re getting the first of several stupid prizes.

  3. Does this mean we’re winning on allowing concerning concealed carry on campus?

    Not gonna completely get my hopes up.

    But I hope something good comes out of this.

  4. I’d love for claim #2 to bite them in the ass.
    You’re right! There’s no reason for guns not to be permitted in all parts of campus!

  5. (1) allowing licensed adults to conceal carry in classrooms violates Plaintiffs’ First Amend- ment right to academic freedom.

    How? It was legal to carry outside the classroom and now it is legal to carry inside the classroom. How does a door change their freedom of speech?

    There is no violation of first amendment rights. The first amendment prevents the “government” from imprisoning you, or otherwise punishing you for what you say. A concealed carrier in the classroom has nothing to do with that.

    • Campus carry is a challenge to the profs’ academic freedom because it makes them all scared and stuff.

      • They aren’t free because they get the willies?
        (intentional spoof)
        What they truly need are………diapers.

  6. The arguments by the Texas AG address “academic freedom” which I have always understood to be closely intertwined, and even indistinguishable from First Amendment freedom of speech. So, not being a lawyer, I don’t clearly understand point 1) and how their rights to “academic freedom” are distinct from rights under the First Amendment. But the AG’s other points seem equally clear whether they are arguing that exercising one’s second amendment rights in the classroom impacts free speech or “academic freedom.”

    If the plaintiffs continue down this path, they could well end up in a quagmire trying to distinguish between “academic freedom” and the unreasonable and unconstitutional restrictions imposed by colleges and universities on their students inside and outside the classroom, especially in speech and rights to due process in “disciplinary hearings.” Check out the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) website for examples:

    • FIRE is doing great work. They’ve probably done more than anyone else to roll back the creeping fascism of academia. Everyone who values individual civil rights should keep them on the radar — or better yet, if you’re in one of the vipers’ nests like I am, on speed dial.

      The big difference between First Amendment rights and academic freedom is that your employer generally can restrict your speech- and religion-related activities while you’re on the job because the Bill of Rights places legal restrictions on government behavior, not individual acts or private enterprise.

      On the other hand, the tradition of academic freedom (at least theoretically) protects scholars and researchers from such job-related interference, since the pursuit of knowledge itself, whatever it is and wherever it’s found, is what academia (again theoretically) is all about.

  7. “… (2) Plaintiffs’ Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection is violated because there is no rational basis … to allow handguns in classrooms while prohibiting them from other areas of campus.”

    If there is no rational basis to allow handguns in classrooms while prohibiting them from other areas, then there is no rational basis to prohibit handguns from other areas and they should be allowed everywhere!

    Thus, the UT professor brain trust has just argued to eliminate all “prohibited” areas. The stupid, it hurts!

    • Haha, I was thinking the same thing.

      Come now, we can’t expect them to actually think through the words that come out of their mouths, can we?

      • OR that private schools can arbitrarily decide they have some mythical power to sprinkle pixiedust and thus eliminate a natural right for someone that sets foot on their lala land/campus.

  8. As far as Equal Protection goes, people should be allowed to carry on private campuses as well, and if any college tries to punish their students/staff for caring about the safety of themselves and those around them, they should be allowed to sue the college.

  9. (because doing so still achieves the goal of not restricting the natural and constitutionally protected right to conceal carry on campuses)
    There, I fixed it.

  10. Equal protection claim because the state is exerting greater control over state owned property and allowing private property owners to make their own choices? hahahaha

    I was hoping the AG would motion for summary dismissal and costs on the basis that the claims are frivolous and without merit.

  11. This is why I’m a single issue voter. This one issue tells you everything of importance about the authority figure in question.

    The right to KABA has always been the definition those that are free versus the peasant, peon or slave.

    If a teacher or professor wants to keep firearms from out of their class rooms, especially when those people have been vetted and licensed; then they are tyrants that look with contempt upon the “peasants and peons” they are supposed to “educate”.

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