Former Oklahoma U Volleyball Player’s First Amendment Claim Can Go Forward

Eugene Volokh
The Volokh Conspiracy, Reason Magazine

Excerpt: Kylee McLaughlin is claiming coaches engaged in "pressure and retaliation ... due to her political beliefs and her reactions to claims of racism," because of the coaches' "political or social justice beliefs, including support for critical race theory, opposition to President Trump, and a belief that white persons like plaintiff are privileged and racist."

In McLaughlin v. Bd. of Regents, decided yesterday by Judge Joe Heaton, the court concluded that McLaughlin had stated a First Amendment claim; it cited the high school speech precedents (Tinker, Fraser, Hazelwood, and Mahanoy)—I think it incorrectly, since I think they don't generally apply to college students—but added that the "substantial public interest in protecting a student's right to express unpopular opinions" is "[p]resumably … even more substantial in a university context than in a high school such as Mahanoy involved." And it concluded (I think correctly) that, even applying the high school cases, McLaughlin could prevail, if the facts were as she described them to be.