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U.S. Supreme Court declines to intervene in lawsuit over West Texas A&M drag shows

By William Melhado, The Texas Tribune

U.S. Supreme Court declines to intervene in lawsuit over West Texas A&M drag shows” was first published by The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan media organization that informs Texans — and engages with them — about public policy, politics, government and statewide issues.

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The U.S. Supreme Court on Friday denied some West Texas A&M University students’ attempt to prevent President Walter Wendler from canceling another on-campus drag show scheduled next week.

Last year, Wendler banned student-led drag shows on the university’s campus, saying the performances degrade women. Students sued the president in response, arguing Wendler violated their First Amendment rights. A Texas federal district court denied the students’ request for relief from Wendler’s ban, arguing not all drag shows are “expressive conduct.”

Earlier this month, West Texas A&M students filed an emergency application with the Supreme Court, seeking an injunction against Wendler to ensure he does not cancel a March 22 drag show students planned. The lawsuit is before the 5th Circuit Court of Appeals, but that court will not hear oral arguments until April — leaving the door open to another cancellation without a court’s intervention.

The Supreme Court did not provide its reasoning for denying students’ request. In response to questions from The Texas Tribune, the university said it does not comment on pending litigation.

“While FIRE is disappointed by today’s denial of an emergency injunction, we’ll keep fighting for our clients’ First Amendment rights,” JT Morris, senior attorney with the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression who is representing the students, said in a statement. “The show is not over.”

This is a developing story. Check back for updates.

Disclosure: West Texas A&M University has been a financial supporter of The Texas Tribune, a nonprofit, nonpartisan news organization that is funded in part by donations from members, foundations and corporate sponsors. Financial supporters play no role in the Tribune’s journalism. Find a complete list of them here.


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This article originally appeared in The Texas Tribune at https://www.texastribune.org/2024/03/15/us-supreme-court-west-texas-drag-show/.

The Texas Tribune is a member-supported, nonpartisan newsroom informing and engaging Texans on state politics and policy. Learn more at texastribune.org.

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