Frank LoMonte, Executive Director of the Student Press Law Center, has an excellent piece in The Chronicle of Higher Education discussing what’s at stake for student speech rights in Tatro v. University of Minnesota, which the Minnesota Supreme Court will hear this Wednesday.
Hard cases, as Justice Oliver Wendell Holmes cautioned in a 1904 Supreme Court opinion, make bad law. What Holmes meant is that cases with distasteful facts and unlikeable parties tempt judges to back into the desired outcome without regard for the broader legal principles at stake. When that happens, future parties with more sympathetic cases become collateral damage.
Tatro v. University of Minnesota is one of those hard cases. If the justices of the Minnesota Supreme Court lose sight of the larger constitutional issues, the outcome in the case could give colleges virtually limitless authority to silence speech critical of their programs, no matter where it is uttered.
Wednesday’s oral arguments will take place in St. Paul on the second floor of the State Capitol Building. Arguments are open to the public, and FIRE supporters in the Twin Cities area are encouraged to attend. The Minnesota Supreme Court convenes at 9 AM; more information about attending is available here.