US Supreme Court Denies Request By Group To Host Drag Show At Texas University

Supreme Court Rejects Appeal for Drag Show Event at Texas University

On Friday, the U.S. Supreme Court made a decision not to approve a request from a student organization. This group wanted to have a drag show at West Texas A&M University but the school had banned it.

The Supreme Court’s decision came through a brief order. Justice Samuel Alito, without any opposition from other justices, turned down the emergency plea from Spectrum WT, an LGBT group, and two of its student leaders. The court chose not to provide a detailed explanation for this decision, which is a common approach for emergency cases.

This decision by the Supreme Court doesn’t settle the matter completely. It means that Spectrum WT cannot go ahead with its planned performance until the legal battle is resolved. The case is set to be heard by the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in April.

Spectrum WT had challenged the university’s president, Walter Wendler, for stopping the drag show. They argued that this ban violated the U.S. Constitution’s First Amendment, which protects free speech.

In March 2023, Spectrum WT took legal action against university officials after Wendler prohibited the drag show scheduled for that month. Drag shows often feature men dressing as women. Despite this setback, the group managed to organize the charity event off-campus. They continued to fight for permission to hold future events, including a drag show planned for March 22. They are represented by the Foundation for Individual Rights and Expression, a non-profit organization advocating for free speech.

A preliminary injunction request by the group was denied by U.S. District Judge Matthew Kacsmaryk last September. He expressed skepticism about their First Amendment claims, stating that it’s not clear if all drag shows are inherently expressive.

The group then appealed to the 5th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in New Orleans. The court decided not to expedite the case, scheduling it for late April. In response, Spectrum WT sought the Supreme Court’s intervention to lift the ban while their case is being considered.

Some states, including Texas, have pursued measures supported by Republicans that target drag shows. These lawmakers argue that such shows could expose children to inappropriate sexual content and behavior.

Previously, in November, the Supreme Court refused to reinstate a Republican-supported law in Florida. This law aimed to ban certain drag shows in front of children but was blocked by lower courts.

Lawyers for the student group argued that the ban goes beyond just one university president’s decision. They believe it challenges the First Amendment’s principles. They claim that officials at public universities across the country are acting as censors, deciding what is acceptable or not on their campuses.

In March 2023, Wendler shared his opinion, stating that drag shows are demeaning and do not align with human dignity. He believes that every person is created in the image of God and deserves respect. He referenced James Madison and Thomas Jefferson, suggesting that the nation’s foundation is built on recognizing the Creator’s role in human dignity.

Conservative Texans have protested against drag queen events, such as one held at a church in Katy, Texas, in September 2022. Wendler argues that drag shows stereotype women and are divisive and demoralizing. He insists that such performances do not preserve human dignity and are not harmless.

Wendler emphasized that the university’s mission is to elevate students based on their achievements and capabilities, without bias towards any group. This standard, he argues, is crucial for the educational mission and service to all, supported by the state’s legislature and officials.

Texas officials, including Attorney General Ken Paxton, a Republican, informed the Supreme Court that the order does not prevent the group from hosting a show elsewhere. They argued that the university’s resources should not be used for a drag show that the president believes could demean others on campus.