Is It A First Amendment Violation To Kick A Student Out Of Nursing School For Blogging About A Patient?
from the questions,-questions dept
Michael Scott points us to an interesting lawsuit, in which a student who was expelled from nursing school after blogging about patients, is fighting to say that the expulsion violated her First Amendment rights and her due process rights. Of course, the First Amendment doesn’t mean you get to say whatever you want, but I believe the key issue here is that she was attending the University of Louisville — which is a state school, so there is some aspect of government action here. On the due process side, she claims that she was never given a fair hearing and never told what specific rules she violated. The district court had ruled in her favor, ordering the university to reinstate her, but did so by effectively ignoring her specific charges, and claiming instead that the woman had not violated the university’s honor code or confidentiality agreement, so it was a simple contract dispute where she had not violated the contract.
However, the university reasonably appealed, pointing out that the woman hadn’t even argued that point, so it was wrong to decide the case on those grounds, and now an appeals court has agreed, sending the case back to the district court to consider the First Amendment issues. While I’m a big supporter of the First Amendment, I’m not sure I see how she has any significant claim here. The university did nothing to silence her speech, but merely said that if she wanted to say those things, she couldn’t do it while a student in their school. The due process claim may have a bit more to it, in that the situation was handled poorly, and it appears the woman had no chance to defend herself or argue her side of the story. But, you would think that a university has the right to determine who to allow in and who to expel without it being a constitutional issue…