We'll keep this short and sweet, but it's always good to highlight when the legal system manages to smack around organizations that try to use intellectual property laws to flatly violate people's rights. You will hopefully recall that in 2017, Iowa State University began blocking any requests by NORML, a group advocating for pro-marijuana laws, to use the school's iconography. NORML sued the school, specifically over threats the school made against the alums running the group over use of its trademarks and a requirement that the school have the right to approve any design for apparel by NORML that included any references to the school. NORML argued that because the school had initially approved their uses, only to flipflop largely under pressure from the conservative state legislature, this was a violation of its free speech rights.
The courts agreed, declaring that ISU had violated NORML's First Amendment rights. The State Appeal Board voted to pay NORML roughly $350k in compensation, leading to many breathless headlines about just how much taxpayer money the school's idiotic actions had wasted.
And now we learn that the cost will actually be much higher, with the courts ordering the state to pay $600k in attorney's fees.
The decision, filed in the U.S. Court for the Southern District of Iowa, closed the case and entered a judgement for $598,208.17 for plantiffs Paul Gerlich and Erin Furleigh late last month. ISU was previously ordered to pay $75,000 to Gerlich and Furleigh each in damages, along with about $193,000 in attorney fees earlier in the case.
Every citizen in Iowa ought to be casting a narrowed eye at everyone involved in this process, from the school to the legislative members that thought stomping on free speech in this way was a good idea. This is taxpayer money being paid out, after all, with the people of Iowa footing the bill for the sins of those that will pay nothing.
Surely just letting speech flow on university campuses would be a better idea, right?