Student preaching, foster care rights: 5 important Supreme Court decisions in 2021
Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski
In Uzuegbunam v. Preczewski, the Supreme Court ruled 8-1 in March that a student named Chike Uzuegbunam could seek nominal damages from Georgia Gwinnett College when the school had punished him for preaching on campus.
The decision overturned an earlier ruling from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 11th Circuit and remanded the case for additional proceedings in tune with the Supreme Court's reasoning.
“For purposes of this appeal, it is undisputed that Uzuegbunam experienced a completed violation of his constitutional rights when respondents enforced their speech policies against him,” wrote Justice Clarence Thomas for the majority.
“Because ‘every violation [of a right] imports damage’ … nominal damages can redress Uzuegbunam’s injury even if he cannot or chooses not to quantify that harm in economic terms.”
Chief Justice John Roberts authored the lone dissent, arguing that Uzuegbunam and fellow plaintiff Joseph Bradford had many problems with their litigation, including the fact that they had graduated, that the policies of the college were changed and that “the petitioners have not alleged actual damages.”