Jackson v. Wright, No. 22-40059 (5th Cir. 2023)Annotate this Case
Plaintiff is a music theory professor at UNT, a leading expert on the Austrian music theorist Heinrich Schenker, the director of the Center for Schenkerian Studies, and the founder of the Journal of Schenkerian Studies. Plaintiff published an article defending Schenker against charges of racism. The Dean of the College of Music announced that the College of Music would be launching a “formal investigation into the conception and production of” the Journal’s symposium issue. After interviewing eleven individuals, the panel produced a report. The provost sent Jackson a letter instructing him to “develop of a plan to address the recommendations.” After Plaintiff submitted his plan, Board members charged the department with launching a national search for a new editor-in-chief for the Journal, who is a full-time tenured faculty member. Plaintiff sued the Board defendants, among others, alleging a First Amendment retaliation claim under 42 U.S.C. Section 1983. The district court denied the defendants’ motions to dismiss.
The Fifth Circuit affirmed. The court found that sovereign immunity does not bar Plaintiff’s First Amendment claim. Further, the court found that Plaintiff has standing to bring his First Amendment claim against the Board defendants. Accordingly, the court found that Plaintiff has “alleged an ongoing violation of federal law and seeks relief properly characterized as prospective.” Thus, at the motion to dismiss stage, sovereign immunity does not bar Plaintiff’s First Amendment claim against the Board defendants. The court also found that Plaintiff also has standing to bring his First Amendment claim. For Article III standing.