Six Years After Expulsion for a Peaceful Protest, Decision May Come Any Minute in Infamous “Facebook Collage” Case

January 30, 2013

For those Ricochet readers familiar with FIRE’s work, you might recall a case that began six years ago dealing with Hayden Barnes, a student from Valdosta State University (VSU) who was expelled for peacefully protesting the planned construction of a parking garage on campus using a collage he posted on Facebook. I found this case so awful that I made it the opening story in my recent book, Unlearning Liberty.

As I write this, Hayden’s case is in the United States District Court for the Middle District of Georgia, Valdosta Division. This week’s trial follows a series of other federal court rulings denying, among other motions, a motion by former VSU President Ronald Zaccari for summary judgment based on a “qualified immunity” defense. For those unfamiliar with the legal concept of qualified immunity, I explain it in some detail here. Bottom-line is, President Zaccari’s violation of Hayden’s constitutional rights is so bad he can, and in my opinion should, be held personally liable.

A verdict in this case is expected soon.

Today, FIRE also released a video featuring famed First Amendment lawyer Robert Corn-Revere. Bob, a partner at Davis Wright Tremaine, agreed to take on Barnes’ case after I told him about the case in 2007, and here talks about some of the particulars of the case, in addition to remarking on the important role free speech plays generally in our society.

Schools: Valdosta State University Cases: Valdosta State University: Student Expelled for Peacefully Protesting Parking Garages