Judge throws out free speech lawsuit against the University of Texas

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AUSTIN (KXAN) — A judge threw out a free speech lawsuit against the University of Texas by the group, Speech First.

The non-profit First Amendment rights group went after the University’s speech policies, residence hall manuals, and the Campus Climate Research team claiming their policies stifle free speech on campus.

The group originally filed last year, saying the investigatory body limits free speech and ultimately hurts students. The body serves as an advisory group for UT looking into issues when a student feels threatened or offended by something another student does or says. They’re meant to discourage racist, sexist, bigoted language. But Speech First claimed those efforts also crack down on free speech. 

Judge Lee Yeakel tossed the suit, saying the group presented no evidence any students had been disciplined, sanctioned or investigated for their speech.

UT spokesperson J.B. Bird sent KXAN this comment on the decision:

Free speech is essential for The University of Texas at Austin to carry out its mission as an institution of higher education, and the university is proud of its work protecting the free speech rights of all members of its community. While we agree with the judge’s decision, we acknowledge a shared dedication with the plaintiffs to the importance of free speech on university campuses. UT will continue to do all it can to support freedom of expression.

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