U Texas Professors Sue to Block New Campus Carry Law

Joan Neuberger

Three University of Texas professors have filed a request for a temporary injunction in federal court to block Texas’ new campus carry law. They filed the legal action the same day that the law took effect.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton is fighting the legal action brought by three University of Texas professors asking a federal court to block the campus carry law. The professors are asking for a temporary injunction. The AG has filed a brief opposing judicial action that would enjoin enforcement of any statute or policy that allows LTC (licensed to carry) holders to conceal carry in classrooms where the plaintiff professors are teaching.

In a 26-page brief filed opposing the request for a preliminary injunction, the AG argues that the professors have failed to satisfy any of the legal requirements for a preliminary injunction. The brief argues that the professors are not likely to succeed on the merits of their claims, there is no substantial threat that they will suffer irreparable harm if the injunction does not issue, the balance of harms favors the Defendants, and the public interest supports denying the legal action that the plaintiff professors seek.

The AG argues that in particular, the likelihood that the professors will prevail on the legal merits in their lawsuit is “particularly stark.” The professors are arguing that “(1) allowing licensed adults to conceal carry in classrooms violates Plaintiffs’ First Amendment right to academic freedom; and (2) Plaintiffs’ Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection is violated because there is no rational basis to treat public universities differently from private universities or to allow handguns in classrooms while prohibiting them from other areas of campus.”

The brief fighting the application of Texas’ new campus carry law filed by the State of Texas argues that neither claim “is likely to succeed.” In support of that assertion, the State argues that the First Amendment claim fails for the following reasons: “(1) they have no individual constitutional right to academic freedom; (2) their alleged violation of their right to academic freedom is not fairly traceable to state action; (3) the alleged state action is indirect and content-neutral; (4) there is no objectively reasonable effect on Plaintiffs’ academic freedom by allowing licensed adults to conceal carry handguns in a classroom; (5) any alleged effect on their right to academic freedom is justified by an important government interest.”

The State argues that the professors’ Equal Protection claim is also unlikely to prevail in court because “it is eminently rational for the State to treat public and private institutions differently (as the State does in countless other areas of the law) and to allow handguns in certain areas of a college campus while prohibiting them in others (because doing so still achieves the goal of generally permitting conceal carry on campuses).”

As reported by Breitbart Texas, Texas’ campus carry law went into effect on August 1. Pro-gun advocates worked throughout the 84th Texas Legislative Session to pass campus and open carry bills.

“It is a frivolous lawsuit and I’m confident it will be dismissed because the Legislature passed a constitutionally-sound law,” Attorney General Paxton said. “There is no legal justification to deny licensed, law-abiding citizens on campus the same measure of personal protection they are entitled to elsewhere in Texas.”

Terry Holcomb, Sr., Executive Director of Texas Carry told Breitbart Texas, “This is just another example of constitution-hating liberals believing that they do not have to follow the law. This suit is baseless on its face and certainly laughable. We are very OK with them packing-up and going back to California. This is Texas and campus carry is here to stay.”

On May 31, 2015 the Texas Legislature passed SB 11, the “Campus Carry Bill,” as reported by Breitbart Texas. Texas Governor Greg Abbott signed the bill into law on June 13, 2015.

The campus carry law went into effect on the anniversary of the first mass-shooting in the nation. On August 1, 1966, a Marine who had been trained as a sniper, killed and wounded approximately 45 people on the University of Texas campus before he was gunned down by authorities. Charles Whitman climbed to the top of the 27-story clock tower in the middle of the university armed with a shotgun, rifles, and pistols. He engaged in what is considered the first mass shooting assault on civilians, as reported by the AP. He had already killed his wife and his mother before he climbed those stairs.

Lana Shadwick is a contributing writer and legal analyst for Breitbart Texas. She has served as a prosecutor and associate judge in Texas. Follow her on Twitter @LanaShadwick2.


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