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. Hail to our Constitutional Law Expert in the Executive Office! “What you’re not paying attention to is the fact that I just took an action to change the law,” Obama said.

  2. What is this, the Ind Supreme Court thinking that there is a separation of powers and limited enumerated powers as delegated by a dusty old document? Such eighteen century thinking, so rare and unwanted by the elites in this modern age. Dictate to us, dictate over us, the massess are chanting! George Soros agrees. Time to change with times Ind Supreme Court, says all President Snows. Rule by executive decree is the new black.

  3. I made the same argument before a commission of the Indiana Supreme Court and then to the fedeal district and federal appellate courts. Fell flat. So very glad to read that some judges still beleive that evidentiary foundations matter.

  4. KUDOS to the Indiana Supreme Court for realizing that some bureacracies need to go to the stake. Recall what RWR said: "No government ever voluntarily reduces itself in size. Government programs, once launched, never disappear. Actually, a government bureau is the nearest thing to eternal life we'll ever see on this earth!" NOW ... what next to this rare and inspiring chopping block? Well, the Commission on Gender and Race (but not religion!?!) is way overdue. And some other Board's could be cut with a positive for State and the reputation of the Indiana judiciary.

  5. During a visit where an informant with police wears audio and video, does the video necessary have to show hand to hand transaction of money and narcotics?

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