UW Signs Consent Order Concluding Union Tabling Lawsuit

The University of Wyoming has agreed to the terms of a consent order that will resolve a lawsuit filed by Todd Schmidt regarding a one-year suspension of his tabling privileges in the Wyoming Union, if the order is approved by U.S. District Judge Nancy Freudenthal.

Under the terms of the proposed order, UW will continue to refrain from enforcing a prior tabling ban on Schmidt and will not censor Schmidt’s views on the sexual identity of a transgender student, in accordance with a preliminary injunction issued by Freudenthal earlier this year.

At the same time, the consent order maintains UW’s “ability to sanction possible future misbehavior by Schmidt, such as continuing to engage with students who do not wish to speak with him.”

Consistent with federal law, UW has agreed to reimburse Schmidt for some of the attorney fees and expenses he incurred, totaling $35,000, with each party responsible for any other respective fees and expenses. There is no other payment to Schmidt under the agreement.

The consent order brings the case to a close.

Freudenthal’s preliminary ruling was that UW infringed upon Schmidt’s First Amendment rights and that his public misgendering of a transgender UW student did not constitute illegal harassment. While the court found that the university has the right to regulate certain conduct by those tabling in the student union, the court concluded that Schmidt’s conduct did not constitute unlawful discrimination or harassment.

Shortly after issuing the injunction, however, the judge ruled that Schmidt could not sue UW’s dean of students in her individual capacity; was not permitted to seek any monetary damages; and failed to back up his claim that the university’s policies were unconstitutional or that they were applied to him in violation of his right to due process.

UW President Ed Seidel previously issued a statement indicating the university accepted the judge’s preliminary injunction and is committed to free expression on campus, within legal limits, under protections provided by the First Amendment.