New Court, new rules: Cases that college students should follow

On March 8, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in support of former Georgia Gwinnett College student Chike Uzuegbunam, who was arguing that his right to freedom of speech was violated. When Uzuegbunam was a student at the college, he was peacefully preaching in an outdoor public area when he was told by campus officials that his actions were in violation of campus policy. In Uzuegbunam’s lawsuit, he requested damages of only $1. Eight of the nine judges ruled in favor of Uzuegbunam, but Chief Justice John Roberts dissented. The Chief Justice cited the fact that Uzuegbunam had graduated and that the campus has changed its policy as the reason for his dissent.
Uzuegbunam’s case was pivotal for the discussion of free speech on college campuses, a hot-button issue on many college campuses. Kristen Waggoner, a lawyer for the Alliance Defending Freedom, who represented Uzuegbunam, told ABC News that, “When such officials engage in misconduct but face no consequences, it leaves victims without recourse, undermines the nation’s commitment to protecting constitutional rights and emboldens the government to engage in future violations. We are pleased that the Supreme Court weighed in on the side of justice for those victims.”
Additionally, another pivotal court case for college students may make its way to the Supreme Court soon. In Arkansas, Governor Asa Hutchinson signed a near-total abortion ban on March 9. The bill only allows an abortion if the life of the mother is in danger, and it does not have exceptions for rape or incest.
Pro-life advocates have long hoped for a bill such as this to possibly make its way to the Supreme Court to overturn Roe v. Wade. For political science student Katie DeReus, the possibility of a court overturning precedent is concerning. “As far as the current issues facing the Court right now, the current makeup of the Court has the ability to reverse some of the work done by other Courts. If the Court chooses that path, I think it could definitely undermine the legitimacy of the Court’s decisions. The Court should not ignore precedent based on whatever political affiliation the majority has at a given time. It is the Court’s responsibility to uphold precedent and not let itself become trapped underneath partisan politics,” she said.
For college students, these legal developments are crucial to follow. Supreme Court decisions affect everyone in the United States, and the decisions made by the court affect generations to come. “I think it’s important for college students to pay attention to the Supreme Court because the decisions that the Court makes have a direct impact on how our country will function in the future,” said DeReus.

Claire Dwyer ('24) is a current Co-Editor-in-Chief of The Anchor. Joining as a News Writer fall of a freshman year, she has enjoyed the opportunity to connect with the campus community through journalism!

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