An effort to stop Texans from legally carrying handguns on university campuses has failed. What some would call a twisted interpretation of the Constitution by three University of Texas at Austin professors was soundly shut down Thursday by a panel of three federal judges.
The Fifth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals judges determined the professors’ claim that the campus carry law infringes upon their First, Second and 14th Amendment rights was invalid.
The claims made by the professors in their lawsuit filed two years ago may leave some people scratching their heads. The reason may be found in a review of the facts. The full ruling of the judges may be viewed online. Here is the basic breakdown, one amendment at a time:
How does campus carry infringe upon the First Amendment? According to professors Mia Carter, Jennifer Glass and Lisa Moore, students and professors might be too afraid to discuss controversial topics in the classroom when someone in the room might be armed without their knowledge.
“Compelling professors at a public university to allow, without any limitation or restriction, students to carry concealed guns in their classrooms chills their First Amendment rights to academic freedom,” the lawsuit said, according to The Texas Tribune.
The appeals court panel affirmed the dismissal of all claims by a district court judge. In the matter of the First Amendment, the district court judge had ruled that the plaintiffs “cannot manufacture standing by self-censoring her speech based on what she alleges to be a reasonable probability that concealed-carry license holders will intimidate professors and students in the classroom.”
This brings us to the 14th Amendment, which is not part of the Bill of Rights, as the prior two are. This amendment deals with citizenship and the rights of American citizens:
So how on earth does a student opting to carry a means of self-defense on campus infringe upon someone else’s citizenship or rights under the 14th Amendment? Hand on tight. It’s a doozy of an explanation.
The professors claimed in their lawsuit that campus carry violated the amendment because “the university lacks a rational basis for determining where students can or cannot concealed-carry handguns on campus.”
The federal judges shot that down as well, saying that Glass “ultimately fails to address Texas’s arguments concerning rational basis. Instead she simply argues that the prohibited concealed-carry zones are an ‘inexplicable hodge-podge.'”
Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton applauded the decision in a statement Thursday.“The lawsuit was filed because the professors disagreed with the law, not because they had any legal substance to their claim,” Paxton said. “The right to keep and bear arms is guaranteed for all Americans, including college students, and the 5th Circuit’s decision prevents that right from being stripped away by three individuals who oppose the law enacted by the Legislature.”
The case might not be over, yet. The professors can fight this ruling by asking for a “full appeals court” hearing or, within 90 days, opt to take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
Their attorney, Renea Hicks, told The Dallas Morning News he doesn’t expect they’ll ask the appeals court to rehear their case.
“I’m doubtful that there’ll be a request for en banc review,” Hicks said. “As to asking for [Supreme Court] review, that’s something we’ll just have to discuss amongst ourselves when we all can coordinate schedules and sit down and meet.”