UConn students arrested for 'ridiculing' speech won't face discipline...for now
- A federal judge has temporarily blocked the University of Connecticut from holding disciplinary hearings for the two students arrested for using racial slurs.
- The decision came just days after the two students sued UConn, alleging free speech violations.
A federal judge blocked the University of Connecticut from issuing punishment to the two students arrested in October for using racial slurs.
Ryan Mucaj and Jarred Karal sued the university on January 14 alleging their constitutional rights to free speech were violated, as Campus Reform reported. The lawsuit came not long after a separate court ordered probation for Karal, including 20 hours of community service and completion of diversity and sensitivity training, as Campus Reform also reported. Mucaj's case was still ongoing.
While the status of Karal's probation is uncertain, a federal court has meanwhile stepped in to prevent UConn from holding student disciplinary hearings, at least for now. Before the injunction, the two students had faced eviction from campus housing before their case even went to trial.
Judge Michael Shea at the U.S. District Court for the District of Connecticut issued the following ruling on Thursday:
"It is HEREBY ORDERED that the defendants, their officers, agents, servants, employees, attorneys, and any other persons who are in active concert or participation with them, are ENJOINED from conducting the Plaintiffs' disciplinary hearing scheduled for January 17, 2020, and are further ENJOINED from imposing any disciplinary sanctions against the Plaintiffs stemming from the October 11, 2019 incident including, without limitation, termination of the Plaintiffs' campus housing, until the Court rules on the Plaintiffs’ alternative motion for preliminary injunction following a hearing scheduled for January 28, 2020
Free speech advocates have decried the university's handling of the situation, and the Connecticut law under which the two were charged.
UCLA law professor Eugene Volokh has called the statute "obviously unconstitutional" while the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education has pointed out that the "First Amendment protects offensive language, and neither the University of Connecticut nor its police officers may abridge students' First Amendment rights," as Campus Reform also previously reported.