Opinions Editor

Jim Dey is a staff writer for The News-Gazette. His email is jdey@news-gazette.com.

Listen to this article

Free-speech defenders took on and defeated their oppressors at the University of Michigan, and they’re now trying to achieve the same goal at the University of Illinois.

That battle was the subject of a Sunday column about Speech First’s goal of shutting down “Bias Response Teams” acting as speech police on college campuses.

The UI survived the first round of that legal battle, when U.S. Judge Colin Bruce denied Speech First’s request asking the court to bar the UI’s Bias Response Team from targeting UI students with sanctions, including expulsion for saying or doing things that may offend classmates.

Speech First has appealed Bruce’s decision to the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago.

The Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals in Cincinnati previously struck down UM’s Bias Response Team as an affront to free speech, and UM subsequently agreed to an out-of-court settlement in which it agreed to disband its team.

Now Speech First is getting some legal help in its battle with President Timothy Killeen, Chancellor Robert Jones and the UI administration.

The Washington, D.C.-based American Council of Trustees and Alumni (ACTA) and the Independent Women’s Law Center recently filed friend-of-the-court legal briefs in support of Speech First and against the UI.

A statement issued by ACTA charged that campus leftists call on Bias Response Teams “to deter the expression of viewpoints that depart from the orthodoxy currently in favor on college campuses.”

“Universities that discourage the free exchange of ideas are failing to prepare students to be responsible members of a democratic society, in which citizens are free to express their views and capable of doing so with respect and civility,” said ACTA President Jonathan Pidluzny.

The odd couple

Tuesday’s column concerned a search-and-seizure brain teaser involving a Kansas motorist’s challenge to a traffic stop. The case Kansas v. Glover was the subject of oral arguments Monday at the U.S. Supreme Court.

NPR’s Nina Totenberg reported on an unusual event that preceded the arguments, one that reaffirms the notion that some disputes can be “business, not personal.”

Totenberg reported, “All the players in the case were there — the defendant, his original lawyer, the trial judge, the assistant DA and the police officer who made the traffic stop. And they all seemed to be friends. In fact, Charlie Glover, the defendant, was standing in line on the Supreme Court plaza, not at all sure he was going to get in to see his case argued, when Andrew Bauch, the assistant DA who prosecuted him, plucked him out of line.”

Explained Bauch, “We didn’t think he had a ticket. And so when we got in, I spoke to the marshals, and I said, ‘Hey, the defendant on this case is outside. We’d like to get him in.’ And they said, ‘OK, go get him.’ And so I ran back and grabbed Mr. Glover and brought him in.”

For his part, Glover was pleased with the accommodation, calling it “neat. It was really kind of empowering.”

Some U.S. Supreme Court reporters can’t resist predicting, based on the justices’ questions to the litigants, how cases will turn out. Although justices’ questions aren’t necessarily indicative of how they’ll rule, that was certainly the case with Glover.

Here is a sampling of the headlines news organizations put on the case after oral arguments:

“Supreme Court seems prepared to rule for police in traffic-stop case.” — Robert Barnes, Washington Post

“Supreme Court skeptical of Fourth Amendment claim in Kansas traffic stop case” — Alex Swoyer, Washington Times

“Justices seem OK with car stop over owner’s invalid license” — Mark Sherman, Associated Press

“Justices Appear Split Over Police Power in Traffic Stops” — Tim Ryan, Courthouse News Service

“Justices appear divided over expanding police officers’ traffic stop power” — John Kruzel, The Hill

“Justice Wrestle With Car Stops and Common Sense. ...” — Adam Liptak, New York Times

“U.S. Supreme Court considers whether Lawrence traffic stop collides with Fourth Amendment” — Tim Carpenter, The Topeka (Kan.) Capital-Journal

Blast from the past

Arthur Culver, the former Champaign schools superintendent now heading the East St. Louis schools, is the target of a federal sexual harassment lawsuit filed last month.

Yvettte Jackson, the district’s long-time director of materials, named Culver and the board of education as defendants. She alleges Culver showed her a pornographic video involving a district employee, made unwelcome sexual advances and told her sexually graphic stories.

Garrett Hoerner, the lawyer representing Culver and the school district, responded to the lawsuit by asserting that “our clients vehemently deny (Jackson’s) claims and intend to vigorously defend against same.

“I fully expect (Jackson’s) complaint to be dismissed by the federal district court, just as her charge of discrimination was dismissed by the U.S. Equal Employment Opportunity Commission,” he said.

Culver, who came from Texas, was superintendent in Champaign for nine years. He left here in the summer of 2011 and took over in East St. Louis a few months later. He was hired to bring the Champaign schools into compliance with the terms of a now-expired civil rights consent decree.

Jackson alleges that she was dismissed from her job after she filed a sexual harassment complaint against Culver.

Jim Dey is a staff writer for The News-Gazette. His email is jdey@news-gazette.com.