In an order issued last week, a federal district court denied Jones County Junior College’s motion to dismiss former student Mike Brown’s First Amendment lawsuit, allowing his case against the Mississippi public college and several administrators to move forward.
Last September, FIRE filed a lawsuit on behalf of Jones County Junior College student Mike Brown and his student group, a campus chapter of Young Americans for Liberty, after college administrators twice stopped Brown from speaking with fellow students about the YAL chapter and civil liberties issues. The suit raises a First Amendment challenge to the college’s policies requiring administrative approval, at least three days in advance, for all “meetings or gatherings” on campus and giving administrators discretion over whether to schedule an event.
JCJC asked the court to dismiss Brown and YAL’s claims, arguing that they lacked standing to pursue the suit and that the college administrators should be shielded from liability by qualified immunity.
After JCJC asked the court to dismiss the lawsuit, the United States Department of Justice filed a Statement of Interest. While the DOJ took no position on the motion to dismiss, it argued that the challenged policies were facially unconstitutional on several grounds, noting that defendants “tellingly make no effort to reconcile JCJC’s speech policies with the First Amendment.”
Last week, the district court rejected JCJC’s arguments against Brown and allowed his claims to proceed. The court, however, dismissed YAL as a party to the lawsuit because it did not have Article III standing. Although YAL is no longer a party, Brown will now be able to move forward with his case and efforts to have JCJC’s speech codes ruled unconstitutional.