Washington D.C., Mar 8, 2021 / 17:00 pm
The Supreme Court on Monday allowed a former college student to pursue a remedy against school officials who restricted when and where he could evangelize on campus.
In Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, the court ruled 8-1 that Chike Uzuegbunam, who was restricted from evangelizing on a public college campus, could sue school officials for nominal damages due to an alleged violation of his free speech.
Justice Clarence Thomas authored the majority opinion, while Chief Justice John Roberts was the lone dissenter.
“To demonstrate standing, the plaintiff must not only establish an injury that is fairly traceable to the challenged conduct but must also seek a remedy that redresses that injury,” Thomas wrote in the majority opinion.
“And if in the course of litigation a court finds that it can no longer provide a plaintiff with any effectual relief, the case generally is moot. This case asks whether an award of nominal damages by itself can redress a past injury. We hold that it can," Thomas wrote.
The group Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which litigates cases on behalf of religious freedom, applauded the court’s ruling.
“When government officials engage in misconduct without consequences, it leaves victims without recourse, undermines the nation’s commitment to protecting constitutional rights, and emboldens the government to engage in future violations,” said Kristen Waggoner, general counsel for ADF who argued the case before the Supreme Court.
“We are pleased that the Supreme Court weighed in on the side of justice for those victims,” Waggoner said.