Supreme Court Sides with University in Drag Show Ban Dispute

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The Supreme Court has sided with West Texas A&M University in its decision to ban a drag show planned by the LGBTQ student group, Spectrum WT. The court’s brief order on Friday denied the group’s emergency petition to lift the ban, effectively preventing the show from going forward on campus as scheduled for March 22nd.

This decision doesn’t reach a final verdict on the case, but it means Spectrum WT will be unable to hold the event on campus while legal proceedings continue. The group argues that the university’s ban violates their First Amendment right to free speech.

The dispute began nearly a year ago when Spectrum WT first requested permission to host a drag show. University president Walter Wendler denied the request, describing drag performances as “exaggerating aspects of womanhood” and “derisive, divisive and demoralizing.” Spectrum WT, on the other hand, characterized the event as “PG-13,” suitable for minors accompanied by parents.

The presence of minors became a key point in the case. U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk, appointed by former President Trump, ruled in September that Spectrum WT’s First Amendment rights didn’t extend to on-campus drag shows involving minors.

Spectrum WT then appealed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, but their request for expedited review was denied. This prompted the student group to take their case to the Supreme Court in the form of an emergency petition. However, the high court’s decision has put a temporary halt to the planned show.

The 5th Circuit is still scheduled to hear arguments in the case later this spring, most likely during the week of April 29th. This upcoming hearing will determine the broader legal question of whether public universities can restrict student groups from hosting drag shows on campus.

The Supreme Court’s silence on the specific reasoning behind their decision leaves room for speculation. It’s unclear whether the justices objected to the nature of drag shows themselves, the presence of minors, or some other aspect of the case. The upcoming 5th Circuit hearing will likely delve deeper into these legal arguments and potentially set a precedent for similar situations in the future.

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