Seventh Circuit Review


Mary J. Goers


First Amendment free speech protections are all the rage across college campuses. Students and administrations have done their best to toe the line and create equitable, safe spaces for students to freely debate and converse about political and controversial topics. Administrations implement policies that aid students in addressing issues of racism, bias, and bigotry on campus, however some students feel as though these policies are a free speech attack. While this may be true, Free Speech, Inc. v. Killeen, a recent Seventh Circuit decision, discussed standing as a procedural roadblock for students who claimed their speech was chilled by administrative policies. The court held that the free speech organization could not establish a particularized injury in fact, and therefore, lacked standing. Through a careful and nuanced analysis, the court further expounded upon what constitutes an injury in fact under current standing doctrine jurisprudence. Claimed injuries are not injuries under the standing doctrine, and must be distinguished from realized injuries, leaving no room for conjecture or hypotheticals. The Seventh Circuit’s position and adherence to nontheoretical, but actual injury, coincides with courts’ understanding of the standing doctrine since the 1970s and illustrates that the standing doctrine must continue to be a threshold question in First Amendment cases.

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