Update (6:20 a.m. on March 30)
According to documents filed Wednesday in Amarillo Federal Court, Spectrum WT withdrew its request for a “temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction” that was made on Friday.
The documents filed Wednesday detailed that Spectrum WT filed the motion for the temporary restraining order on Friday, then started a fundraiser to ensure that the March 31 charity drag show “could go forward as scheduled, albeit at an alternate venue off campus.” Spectrum WT withdrew the motion late Wednesday, according to the documents, after meeting the fundraising goal and paying for the off-campus venue.
As noted previously in court documents, Spectrum WT filed the motion for the temporary restraining order so that the organization could move ahead with holding its planned Friday, March 31 charity drag show in the originally-planned on-campus venue, without being prevented from doing so by West Texas A&M University and Texas A&M University System officials. The presiding judge in the lawsuit did not grant the motion but rather ordered the defendants, WT and TAMU System officials, to file a written response to the motion by 10 a.m. Thursday.
While the documents detailed that Spectrum WT was withdrawing its request for a temporary restraining order that would allow it to host the March 31 event on campus, the organization did note that it was maintaining the request for a preliminary injunction to stop the defendants from prohibiting future similar events on campus.
In the wake of Spectrum WT’s update, a response was filed Wednesday evening from Texas Attorney General Ken Paxton and associates. The response read that, due to Spectrum WT withdrawing the motion that led to the court order with the Thursday morning deadline, “absent direction otherwise from the court, the defendants understand there to be no request to which they can respond. Should the Court wish for them to file an expedited response to the plaintiffs’ allegations, they stand ready to respond.”
Update (10:29 a.m. on March 28)
According to an order signed by United States District Judge Matthew J. Kacsmaryk on Monday, the defendants, including officials from West Texas A&M University and the Texas A&M University System, are required to file a written response to the motion for a “temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction” by 10 a.m. on Thursday.
In the order, Kacsmaryk said that he found that the ex parte temporary restraining order requirements of Rule 65 (b)(1)(B) of the Federal Rules of Procedure had not been satisfied, in his view.
According to the Federal Rules of Procedure, it states that a Federal Court is able to issue a temporary restraining order without “written or oral notice to the adverse party or its attorney” if the “movant’s attorney certifies in writing any efforts made to give notice and the reasons why it should not be required.” This means that the judge is able to issue a temporary restraining order if they choose to do so if the judge believes there has been notification and that there is a valid reason for the order without hearing from the other side.
As mentioned previously, the temporary restraining order motion was intended by Spectrum WT so that the previously canceled charity drag show could still happen as scheduled on Friday. With the deadline for a response from the defendants set for Thursday morning, it appears that Kacsmaryk could still make a decision before the intended date of the show.
AMARILLO, Texas (KAMR/KCIT) — The lawyers representing Spectrum WT and its student leaders Barrett Bright and Lauren Stovall have filed a motion for a “temporary restraining order and a preliminary injunction” in its recent Amarillo Federal Court lawsuit against West Texas A&M University and Texas A&M University System officials.
According to previous reports by MyHighPlains.com, the student organization filed a lawsuit earlier this month against WTAMU President Walter Wendler, as well as other university and university system officials, after Wendler published a letter, canceling a planned on-campus charity drag show, citing his view that the drag performances mock and objectify women.
The motion, filed Friday in the United States District Court for the Northern District of Texas Amarillo Division, is asking for the court to rule in favor of the plaintiffs, allowing them to host the scheduled drag show performance for March 31 without obstruction from the university and the university system. The motion would also allow the organization to host similar events in the future without obstruction.
“West Texas A&M University’s President, Defendant Walter Wendler, has declared that he will not obey ‘the law of the land.’ Instead, he insists on banning a recognized student group’s event from campus simply because he dislikes the event’s entirely lawful message,” the plaintiffs’ brief in support of the motion, filed on Friday in Amarillo Federal Court, reads. “By moving for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, Plaintiffs ask this court to put a swift end to Wendler’s disdain for the First Amendment and prevent further irreparable harm to Plaintiffs’ constitutional freedoms.”
As officials said in the initial lawsuit, the organization alleges they followed the university’s process for event approval, “with the full backing of campus staff.” Officials also go on to allege that the university’s administration supported the organization’s planning of the event throughout the facility request process, with the university giving Spectrum WT “tentative confirmation” for the event in late February.
After Wendler chose to cancel the event, the motion claims that neither Wendler nor any other WTAMU staff member or defendant in the lawsuit, “gave any reason other than Wendler’s personal views as the reason” for canceling the event. The motion also stressed that Sharp, as the Chancellor for the Texas A&M University System, and the system’s Board of Regents, have not stopped Wendler’s actions, “despite having the power and duty to do so.”
As they said in the lawsuit, the plaintiffs in the case claim that they have suffered “irreparable injury,” not receiving the same opportunities that other student groups receive on campus. They also stressed that “significant time and organizational resources” went into planning and promoting the event.
The organization states that the motion should be granted because, in their view:
- They are substantially likely to succeed on the merits of their claims;
- They are, and will continue to, suffer irreparable harm in the loss of their First Amendment rights;
- The balance of equities decidedly tips in favor of protecting First Amendment rights; and
- Public interest “always supports upholding the Constitution.”
The attorneys for the plaintiffs said that Spectrum WT has the right to host this particular event under the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting public university officials from limiting student expression “simply because they disagree with its viewpoint or find the message offensive.” Wendler’s overall ban on drag shows, the documents read, is “textbook content discrimination,” singling out a subject matter for differential treatment.
The attorneys went on to cite other case law, which has helped interpret the First Amendment in these kinds of scenarios, stating that the amendment prevents university officials “from denying student groups access to campus public forums because of the content or viewpoint of a group’s message.”
The brief in support of the motion also states that the balance of harm is in favor of the plaintiffs, with violations of First Amendment Rights constituting “irreparable injury.”
“By contrast, President Wendler identifies no potential harm to the university (or himself) from the drag show proceeding other than his personal laments,” the brief reads. “That’s not enough.”
As of Monday, no other documents, including a response from the defendants on the initial suit and on the motion for a temporary restraining order and preliminary injunction, have been filed.
This is a developing story. MyHighPlains.com will update this article as new information becomes available.
Download the KAMR Local 4 News app on the App Store or Google Play for updates on the go.
Sign up for MyHighPlains.com email updates to see top stories, every day.
Check with MyHighPlains.com to see the latest updates for local news, weather, and events.