Blunt U.S. District Court Verdict to Increase Marijuana T-shirt Case Costs to Almost $1 Million
Receiving a college education can place someone in quite a pricey predicament, but attending a school and not truly learning what it means to stand up for one’s beliefs can end up being a much costlier matter. Iowa State University products Paul Gerlich and Erin Furleigh did not need any prodding to prove the latter, as they sued the institution over a dispute concerning elements to a T-shirt that drew attention to their National Organization for the Reform of Marijuana Legislation (NORML) chapter. Already compensated with $75,000 each in January, the two learned earlier this week that the state budget will soon endow then with nearly $600,000 more to cover lawyer fees and costs, which, along with their initial settlement and $193,000 in appellate attorney charges awarded simultaneously, will swell taxpayers’ burden to almost $1 million.
Three months shy of a four-year legal struggle, the confrontation between the collegiate and the school dates back to 2012, with registrants irking the overseers when a garment advertising the former’s pro-weed group came to include the higher learning destination’s logo and mascot and a marijuana leaf. Asserting that the banning of the apparel product suppressed their rights, the matriculators began to be blunt defenders of their constitutional freedom on July 1, 2004. Upon rendering the winter 2018 verdict, U.S. District Judge James Gritzner noted he would be tallying trial costs affiliated with the fight, leading to this past Monday’s second announcement.
The matter stretched out so far because, according to the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, which followed the back-and-forth saga as an element of its Stand Up For Speech Litigation Project, Iowa State University officials consistently elected to make appeals when judges agreed that university figures “unlawfully discriminated against ISU NORML based on the political viewpoints they expressed.” That constancy is going to cost constituents, as The Gazette—reiterating Promo Marketing’s first look at this situation—connected with university spokesman John McCarroll, who told a reporter that the new sum and the other funds will come through the state, not exactly the sort of news that hard-working Iowans had wanted to hear, as they will be contributing to the resolution of a squabble that the plaintiff’s counselor feels should have ended much earlier. Said Robert Corn-Revere, “One reason we urge universities to settle early on is to avoid these kinds of expenses.”
Marijuana has sparked much debate in Iowa recently, with this verdict being one of two highly publicized looks at its future in the Heartland expanse. The Iowa State University duel also shows how important promotional products can be. At its most basic, a T-shirt is simply something that, like all other clothing, preserves decency. Another use, of course, is to draw attention to a team or organization, but this courtroom duel affirms that the apparel constant can advocate for social awareness just as well as it can protect wearers from the elements or show pride in sporting achievements or business successes.
It will be interesting to see what this decision could mean for other student groups’ exchanges with the powers that be who aim to prepare their members to make their place in the world. Will T-shirts continue to cause controversy, and if so, are the scales likely to tip in one party’s favor?