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Paxton responds to campus carry lawsuit

It’s about what you’d expect.

Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton on Tuesday called a lawsuit brought by three University of Texas at Austin professors against the state’s campus carry law “frivolous” and said the professors have no valid reasons for opposing guns on campus.

Paxton filed a brief in response to the lawsuit Monday, saying the professors’ request to block the law — which went into effect Monday — before the first day of fall classes is unconstitutional.

“It is a frivolous lawsuit, and I’m confident it will be dismissed because the Legislature passed a constitutionally-sound law,” Paxton said in a statement. “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.”


In his response, Paxton says the professors’ arguments do not justify banning concealed carry on campus. They have no individual right to academic freedom under the First Amendment, the brief says. It goes on to say that it is irrational to claim the state cannot treat public and private institutions differently, as it does this in countless other areas of the law.

“Plaintiffs will not be irreparably harmed if a preliminary injunction is issued, but Defendants will be,” the brief says. “The citizens of this state — and in particular the students who wish to take the classes offered by Plaintiffs — will be denied both their statutory and constitutional rights.”

UT also filed a brief responding to the professors’ lawsuit, in which it claims there is no evidence to support banning guns in classrooms.

When it comes to limiting robust discussion in the classroom, “plaintiffs do not allege more than subjective chill,” the brief says.

Since the law is already in effect, the professors would have to present a very strong argument to make an exception for them, the brief adds.

See here for the background, here for Paxton’s response, and here for UT’s. I hate to be on the same side of an issue as Ken Paxton, and I think campus carry is dumb policy, but I remain skeptical of this lawsuit. I have a hard time seeing a court buying the First and Second Amendment claims the plaintiffs raise, and even if a district court does, I have an even harder time seeing such a ruling survive the appeals process. But as they say in baseball, this is why they play the games, so we’ll see what happens in court. And what happened yesterday was no ruling yet.

A federal judge took no action Thursday on a request by three University of Texas at Austin professors to temporarily block Texas’ campus carry law, saying he won’t give his initial ruling until at least next week.

But the case against gained a new wrinkle at a hearing Thursday, with the professors’ lawyers now adding a claim that UT-Austin’s gun policies are too vague to be enforced.

It remains to be seen whether the challenge will go anywhere. Lawyers on the professors’ side admitted in court that their claims wade into uncharted legal waters.

“It goes without saying that this is an interesting case,” said U.S. District Judge Lee Yeakel. “Both sides, I thought, did an exceptional job.”


The state law, which went into effect Monday, orders public universities to allow guns. But it doesn’t specifically mention professors’ role. And lawyers on both sides couldn’t point to written UT-Austin policies that describe what would happen to a professor if he or she chooses to ban guns anyway.

Still, the state’s lawyers stressed that public university professors are required to uphold state law and that the law prohibits schools from banning guns in classrooms.

The judge said he wanted to hear more about that argument and asked attorneys on both sides to submit filings detailing their positions. Those are due Monday, and rebuttals can be filed until Wednesday.

This is all for a preliminary injunction, so whatever does get ruled will be temporary. And appealed, but that goes without saying. The Current, the Observer, and the Press have more.

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