Update: Actually, Court Orders Iowa State To Pay Alums $600k For Violating Their Rights

from the halfa-mildo dept

We’ll keep this short and sweet, but it’s always good to highlight when the legal system manages to smack around organizations that try to use intellectual property laws to flatly violate people’s rights. You will hopefully recall that in 2017, Iowa State University began blocking any requests by NORML, a group advocating for pro-marijuana laws, to use the school’s iconography. NORML sued the school, specifically over threats the school made against the alums running the group over use of its trademarks and a requirement that the school have the right to approve any design for apparel by NORML that included any references to the school. NORML argued that because the school had initially approved their uses, only to flipflop largely under pressure from the conservative state legislature, this was a violation of its free speech rights.

The courts agreed, declaring that ISU had violated NORML’s First Amendment rights. The State Appeal Board voted to pay NORML roughly $350k in compensation, leading to many breathless headlines about just how much taxpayer money the school’s idiotic actions had wasted.

And now we learn that the cost will actually be much higher, with the courts ordering the state to pay $600k in attorney’s fees.

The decision, filed in the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Iowa, closed the case and entered a judgement for $598,208.17 for plantiffs Paul Gerlich and Erin Furleigh late last month. ISU was previously ordered to pay $75,000 to Gerlich and Furleigh each in damages, along with about $193,000 in attorney fees earlier in the case.

Every citizen in Iowa ought to be casting a narrowed eye at everyone involved in this process, from the school to the legislative members that thought stomping on free speech in this way was a good idea. This is taxpayer money being paid out, after all, with the people of Iowa footing the bill for the sins of those that will pay nothing.

Surely just letting speech flow on university campuses would be a better idea, right?

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Comments on “Update: Actually, Court Orders Iowa State To Pay Alums $600k For Violating Their Rights”

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That Anonymous Coward (profile) says:

Their morals & stupidity know no limits…. as long as someone else foots the bill.

It would be nice if occasionally they were found PERSONALLY responsible for a portion of the pay-outs. When it is their own ass on the line, they tend to be much less bold.

TAC – currently suspended from twitter for calling himself a faggot, a year ago….

An ISU Grad Student says:

I’m actually a grad student at ISU, and I want to make it clear: nobody in the ISU administration actually gave a shit about NORML, the T-shirts, or anything having to do with this. (In fact, based on the people I know who work here, I’d estimate at least 70% of the administration is strongly in favor of legalization.)

This whole stupid mess got started because some Iowa House Republicans and our Esteemed Ambassador to China</s>/former governor Terry Branstad got their collective knickers in a twist about it appearing like ISU supported marijuana use. ISU had actually approved the T-shirts, leaf and all. And then former ISU president Leath (who was terrible for a whole variety of reasons – look up ‘ISU planegate’ and enjoy the stupidity; it’s one of the only things that got us through the last election cycle) and some other administrators caved due to what they assumed would be public outcry and political pressure.

And in fairness to them, ISU and the other Iowa state-funded schools literally can’t afford to piss off the state government. They just cut our allocated funding, in the middle of the school year, by $6.9 million, on top of cutting it by $11.5 million last year. So if you’re the university, shelling out $600,000 is a lot better than losing millions. Although since they’re apparently going to lose funding regardless, I’d prefer if they’d die on the hill of student rights rather than what the idiots in our state government want; I imagine the alumni would be happier to donate that way…

TL;DR – ISU’s administration could not care less about marijuana use, did care about losing funding, ended up losing funding anyway, and then also lost the legal battle.


College Writer (user link) says:

You are right, now the government often makes silly decisions, and do not understand why. I completely agree with you. I think that graduates will be happier to sacrifice in this way. Undoubtedly, all the hype began really from the Republicans of Iowa House and our esteemed ambassador in China. If it were not for them, perhaps all this was not, is not it?

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