Court denies preliminary injunction in U. Michigan Bias Response Team lawsuit

Le·gal In·sur·rec·tion | 8/9/2018 | William A. Jacobson
TaylorShaye (Posted by) Level 3
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In early May 2018, we covered a lawsuit brought by a new group called Speech First challenging U. Michigan’s Bias Response Teams, Lawsuit: U. Michigan speech code and Bias Response Team “profoundly chill free speech and open discourse”.

You can view U. Michigan’s bias reporting website here, and reporting form here. U. Michigan also has an infographic describing the process.

Complaint - Pdf - Issue - Vagueness - Code

The Complaint (pdf.) took particular issue with the vagueness of the disciplinary code:

31. The effect of these amorphous prohibitions on “bullying,” “harassment,” and “bias-motivated misconduct” is to profoundly chill free speech and open discourse at the University.

Student - Opinion—or - Humor - Parody - Satire

32. A student who voices a controversial or unpopular opinion—or who seeks to use humor, parody, or satire when discussing sensitive topics—could face severe punishment up to and including expulsion if even one other student perceives that speech to be “demeaning” or “bothersome.” Put differently, students must be certain before speaking that their words will not be perceived as offensive by even the most sensitive student on campus.

33. Many students will inevitably choose not to speak—or to speak less forcefully about controversial topics—rather than face the risk of disciplinary proceedings and punishment if another student takes offense at their words and files a complaint alleging violations of the Statement’s ban on “bullying,” “harassment,” and “bias-motivated misconduct.”

June - DOJ - Support - Lawsuit - U

In June, DOJ filed in support of lawsuit against U. Michigan over Bias Response Team.

DOJ’s Statement of Interest (pdf.) supporting the request for a preliminary injunction provided, in part:

United - States - Statement - Interest - USC

The United States respectfully submits this Statement of Interest under 28 U.S.C. § 517, which authorizes the Attorney General “to attend to the interests of the United States in a suit pending in a court of the United States.” The United States is resolutely committed to protecting First Amendment freedoms and to ensuring, as Congress has directed, that public “institution[s] of higher education...
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