Really big news here:
Nina Yoder just won a summary judgment against the University of Louisville.
Details to follow.
From the Court opinion:
Yoder specifically alleges that Defendants violated her First Amendment right to free speech by dismissing her from the SON based on the Blog Post. Yoder argues that the Honor Code is unconstitutionally broad and that the Confidentiality Agreement is unconstitutionally vague. Yoder further alleges that Defendants violated her Fourteenth Amendment rights to due process by depriving her of the interest in her education without adequate notice and the opportunity to be heard.
Defendants assert that this is not a free speech case. They argue that Yoder violated her obligations as a nursing student and was dismissed from the SON program for those specific violations. They further contend that even if this were a free speech case, the Blog Post is not protected by the First Amendment. Defendants also allege that both the Honor Code and Confidentiality Agreement are constitutional, and that Yoder was afforded all the due process to which she was entitled. Defendants additionally argue that this action is barred because Yoder failed to exhaust her University remedies and that they are immune from damages.
Getting into the meat of things:
As a preliminary matter, this action is not barred for failure to exhaust University remedies.
Yoder was dismissed from the SON because Defendants found that her Blog Post violated both the Honor Code and the Confidentiality Agreement. However, upon review of the relevant texts, the court finds that the Blog Post does not violate either of these two agreements. Therefore, there is no basis for Defendants’ dismissal of Yoder from the SON.
In sum, the Blog Post does not contain information that could possibly lead to the discovery of the birth mother’s identity. Therefore, the Blog Post does not violate the confidentiality provision of the Honor Code by Defendants’ own terms, nor the Confidentiality Agreement.
To be sure, Yoder’s attempt at humor was an abject failure. Her observations on women, children, motherhood and the birthing process are, for the most part, crass and uncouth. The court most certainly does not approve of the language used. However, to be fair, the Blog Post does end with a reversal of attitude and a departing message that is positive — life-affirming, even — if perversely so. Yoder writes that she is “overwhelmed with emotions and new knowledge and experience,” and ultimately concludes that she wants another baby of her own.
Regardless, the court does not judge the Blog Post on its comedic or literary merit. Despite what we, or Defendants, may think of it, the Blog Post does not violate the professionalism provision of the Honor Code because it was not created or used in any professional context.
And the moment we’ve all been waiting for, when United States District Court Judge Charles R. Simpson III hands the smack-down to UofL:
In this case, the SON has taken a crude attempt at humor done in a non-professional context, and attempted to shoe-horn it into a violation of a “professionalism” promise which speaks to conduct as a “representative of the School of Nursing.” That square peg doesn’t fit the found hole which the facts disclose. Accordingly, there is no basis for Defendants’ dismissal of Yoder from the SON.
Yoder must be reinstated as a student at the SON and allowed to return to classes immediately. Because Yoder succeeds on her motion for summary judgment on nonconstitutional grounds, we need not address liability for damages…
Because the court finds that there are no genuine issues of fact and Yoder is entitled to summary judgment as a matter of law, Yoder’s motion for summary judgment will be granted and Defendants’ cross-motion will be denied.
Click here (Warning: PDF Link) for the entire opinion.
So there you have it. The University of Louisville not only wrongly expelled a student from the School of Nursing, the University’s legal team wasted your tax dollars fighting everything in court.
Yet more proof that Jim Ramsey and Shirley Willihnganz are derelict of their duty as leaders of the school.
Yet more proof that common sense can prevail and that the freedom of speech is important in this country– despite the fact that the University of Louisville fought hard against both.