HomeCrimeClarence Thomas and Alito fear for college campuses

Clarence Thomas and Alito fear for college campuses

Justice Clarence Thomas, Justice Samuel Alito

Left, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Samuel Alito. (Image via YouTube screengrab/The Heritage Foundation.) Right, Associate Justice of the Supreme Court Clarence Thomas.
(Image via YouTube/Library of Congress.)

Supreme Court Justice Clarence Thomas penned and Justice Samuel Alito joined a dissent on Monday in a case about a Virginia Tech University policy for “bias intervention and response,” urging fellow justices to “resolve” once and for all the “high-stakes issue” of whether “bias-reporting schemes” tend to “objectively chill students’ speech.”

The dissent came at the end of an orders list, where SCOTUS granted Speech First, Inc.’s petition for a writ of certiorari but vacated the judgment below and “remanded to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit with instructions to dismiss those claims as moot,” since the university changed its policy before the petition was filed. Thomas and Alito joined together to say they would have granted the petition and heard the case, calling it a “high-stakes issue for our Nation’s system of higher education.”

Justice Thomas, noting that Speech First likened “bias reporting schemes” on campus to “a literal speech police,” said the petition “raises an important question affecting universities nationwide.”

“I have serious concerns that bias response policies, such as Virginia Tech’s, objectively chill students’ speech,” he wrote, especially in light of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit’s holding that the Virginia Tech “bias response” policy in question did not chill speech because the university lacked “authority to discipline or otherwise punish students and the implementation of the policy is not so heavyhanded that it deters students’ speech.”

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