Friday, December 25, 2020

No injunction in Annapolis case--yet

Federal district judge Ellen L. Hollander has dismissed without prejudice the case of Standage v. Braithwaite, a lawsuit brought by an Annapolis midshipman seeking to block his disenrollment. The case raises significant free speech issues, judging by this account. Here's the judge's lede:
This case arises from efforts of the United States Naval Academy (“USNA,” “Naval Academy” or “Academy”) to discharge and disenroll plaintiff Chase Standage, a twenty-one year old midshipman first class in his senior year at the Academy, because of “tweets” that he published in June 2020 via Twitter, “a social networking platform that allows a person to post and read short messages called ‘tweets.’” United States v. Loughry, ___ F.3d ___, 2020 WL 7483758, at *2 (4th Cir. Dec. 21, 2020). Plaintiff’s tweets concerned topics such as race, racial injustice, police brutality, the social ferment related to those issues, and the government’s response to protests that gripped the nation after the tragic deaths of Breonna Taylor and George Floyd in March and May 2020, respectively.
Judge Hollander ruled that the case is not yet ripe. It is safe to assume the parties will be back in court if the Secretary of the Navy (whoever that will be after January 20, 2021) winds up dismissing Midshipman Standage.

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