ILNews

SCOTUS won't hear free-speech cases

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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The Supreme Court of the United States has decided against taking two Indiana cases that involve free-speech issues.

At its conference last week when the high court decided to examine Indiana's two-year-old voter identification law, justices also declined to hear James G. Gilles v. Bryan K. Blanchard, et al., 06-1617, and Deborah A. Mayer v. Monroe County Community School Corp., et al., 06-1993. The court posted an order denying the cases Monday.

The denials mean the previous decisions from the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals now stand as the final ruling in the cases.

In Gilles, the 7th Circuit in February held that a Vincennes University policy restricting uninvited "solicitations" on campus doesn't violate constitutional rights. The suit stemmed from a 2001 incident in which a Christian preacher wanted to speak on the public university's library lawn - not in a walkway outside the student union where he needed university permission - and refused to leave when asked. The Circuit Court upheld the decision by Chief Judge Larry McKinney in the U.S. District Court's Southern District of Indiana, who dismissed the case in favor of the university.

The 7th Circuit wrote, "The issue more simply posed is whether a university should be able to bar uninvited speakers under a policy that by decentralizing the invitation process assures nondiscrimination, and a reasonable diversity of viewpoints consistent with the university's autonomy and right of self-governance. We have tried to explain why the Constitution does not commit a university that allows a faculty member or student group to invite a professor of theology to give a talk on campus also to invite Brother Jim and anyone else who would like to use, however worthily, the university's facilities as his soapbox. To call the library lawn therefore a "limited designated public forum" is an unnecessary flourish. Affirmed."

In Mayer, justices declined to revisit a case involving a Bloomington teacher who was fired for comments she made about the Iraq war to elementary students during class. The decision upheld a prior ruling by U.S. District Judge Sarah Evans Barker in the Southern District of Indiana.

"It is enough to hold that the first amendment does not entitle primary and secondary teachers, when conducting the education of captive audiences, to cover topics, or advocate viewpoints, that depart from the curriculum adopted by the school system," the 7th Circuit wrote in that January decision.
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  1. Whether you support "gay marriage" or not is not the issue. The issue is whether the SCOTUS can extract from an unmentionable somewhere the notion that the Constitution forbids government "interference" in the "right" to marry. Just imagine time-traveling to Philadelphia in 1787. Ask James Madison if the document he and his fellows just wrote allowed him- or forbade government to "interfere" with- his "right" to marry George Washington? He would have immediately- and justly- summoned the Sergeant-at-Arms to throw your sorry self out into the street. Far from being a day of liberation, this is a day of capitulation by the Rule of Law to the Rule of What's Happening Now.

  2. With today's ruling, AG Zoeller's arguments in the cases of Obamacare and Same-sex Marriage can be relegated to the ash heap of history. 0-fer

  3. She must be a great lawyer

  4. Ind. Courts - "Illinois ranks 49th for how court system serves disadvantaged" What about Indiana? A story today from Dave Collins of the AP, here published in the Benton Illinois Evening News, begins: Illinois' court system had the third-worst score in the nation among state judiciaries in serving poor, disabled and other disadvantaged members of the public, according to new rankings. Illinois' "Justice Index" score of 34.5 out of 100, determined by the nonprofit National Center for Access to Justice, is based on how states serve people with disabilities and limited English proficiency, how much free legal help is available and how states help increasing numbers of people representing themselves in court, among other issues. Connecticut led all states with a score of 73.4 and was followed by Hawaii, Minnesota, New York and Delaware, respectively. Local courts in Washington, D.C., had the highest overall score at 80.9. At the bottom was Oklahoma at 23.7, followed by Kentucky, Illinois, South Dakota and Indiana. ILB: That puts Indiana at 46th worse. More from the story: Connecticut, Hawaii, Minnesota, Colorado, Tennessee and Maine had perfect 100 scores in serving people with disabilities, while Indiana, Georgia, Wyoming, Missouri and Idaho had the lowest scores. Those rankings were based on issues such as whether interpretation services are offered free to the deaf and hearing-impaired and whether there are laws or rules allowing service animals in courthouses. The index also reviewed how many civil legal aid lawyers were available to provide free legal help. Washington, D.C., had nearly nine civil legal aid lawyers per 10,000 people in poverty, the highest rate in the country. Texas had the lowest rate, 0.43 legal aid lawyers per 10,000 people in poverty. http://indianalawblog.com/archives/2014/11/ind_courts_illi_1.html

  5. A very thorough opinion by the federal court. The Rooker-Feldman analysis, in particular, helps clear up muddy water as to the entanglement issue. Looks like the Seventh Circuit is willing to let its district courts cruise much closer to the Indiana Supreme Court's shorelines than most thought likely, at least when the ADA on the docket. Some could argue that this case and Praekel, taken together, paint a rather unflattering picture of how the lower courts are being advised as to their duties under the ADA. A read of the DOJ amicus in Praekel seems to demonstrate a less-than-congenial view toward the higher echelons in the bureaucracy.

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