U.S. Supreme Court weighs free-speech fight over Texas college censure

U.S. Supreme Court justices on Tuesday appeared skeptical that a Texas community college violated the free speech rights of a former member of its board of trustees by censuring him for “reprehensible” behavior during his stormy tenure.

The justices heard nearly 90 minutes of oral arguments in Houston Community College’s appeal of a lower court decision to revive a lawsuit by David Wilson that claimed that the school’s censure – a formal act of discipline – violated the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment protection from government abridgment of free speech.

Questions posed by the justices indicated that they may be reluctant to limit the ability of publicly elected bodies to respond to a member’s speech or conduct with censure. Wilson was publicly elected to the school’s board of trustees.

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