Important Preliminary Win in a Free Speech and Defamation Case


Writing on Legal Insurrection, Cornell law professor William Jacobson reports good news on a “cancel culture” attack on a music professor.

Professor Timothy Jackson of the University of North Texas had the temerity to dispute a claim that a long-deceased German musicologist was a racist. For that, he was pilloried by “woke” elements at his university. University leaders were complicit in the ruinous attack on Jackson. Naturally, they lawyered up and attempted to get the case dismissed.

The court, however, refused to dismiss the case.

Jacobson concludes;

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Prof. Jackson’s case can move forward. Surviving a motion to dismiss is a huge hurdle in free speech and defamation cases, particularly where the claims involve individual Regents (or Trustees). But Prof. Jackson survived, which is all you need on a motion to dismiss.

This is a big win. Prof. Jackson will have to survive additional procedural hurdles, such as a motion for summary judgment, but in this case the facts already seem pretty well developed, so if he could survive a motion to dismiss, there’s a good chance he’ll survive long enough to get to trial.

Trial. That ought to scare the devil out of the defendants. Remember the Oberlin case? Just how much are the university’s leaders prepared to spend on litigation with the possibility of a huge damage award from a Texas jury that’s not sympathetic to wokeness and cancel culture?

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