The Supreme Court is mulling over a case involving a college graduate who was not allowed to share his faith.
Tuesday, January 12, 2021, the U.S. Supreme Court heard the case of Chike Uzuegbunam and Joseph Bradford -- two students who were stopped by Georgia Gwinnett College officials from sharing their faith publicly on campus in the summer of 2016. (See earlier One News Now story.)
"First, they said I could only speak in the two tiny speech zones, and only then at prescribed times and with a reservation," Chike Uzuegbunam told reporters yesterday in a media call hosted by his attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). "Later, when I was standing in the speech zone I had reserved, I was told I could not speak at all, and all I wanted to do was share the good news of Jesus Christ and how He offers us eternal life freely."
Officials later changed their policies and claimed that was enough to end the students' lawsuit, even though the officials never did anything to remedy the past free-speech violations.
"College officials clearly violated Chike's rights," claims ADF attorney John Bursch in an op-ed published on The Hill's website. "But the district court allowed them to get away with it, dismissing the case because the policy was revoked and because Chike had graduated, after spending his final semesters of college banned from sharing his faith as he desired."
The U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit agreed with the district court.
Chike Uzuegbunam is seeking nominal damages.
"Nominal damages redress a constitutional injury when a plaintiff is unable or does not want to put a dollar figure on a lost right, and we need nominal damages awards to ensure that our rights are scrupulously observed," writes Bursch. "If citizens cannot obtain meaningful redress when the government acts unlawfully, our rights will be violated more frequently. A right that cannot be enforced is no right at all."
"It is difficult to quantify the value of lost speech," ADF attorney Kristen Waggoner told reporters in the media call. "Chike will never get those days back, and he will never have the opportunity to speak to those students in the student plaza again. You can't put an easy price tag on that."
Over two dozen groups, including the American Center for Law and Justice, the Christian Legal Society, the American Humanist Association, and the Council on American-Islamic Relations (CAIR), have filed amicus briefs supporting Chike Uzuegbunam and Joseph Bradford.
The case is known as Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski.