Minnesota off-campus speech case will be re-argued before state high court

UPDATE: The arguments have been rescheduled for Monday, April 2.

The case of a former University of Minnesota student who was disciplined by the university for her Facebook posts will be re-argued before the Minnesota Supreme Court due to one justice’s recusal.

Associate Justice Paul H. Anderson wrote that his impartiality may be questioned because he teaches a yearly seminar at the university and donates money to its law school.

“My recusal is not the result of a belief that I cannot faithfully and impartially perform my duties as a justice on these cases,” Anderson wrote. “On this point I have never wavered.”

The court heard oral arguments Feb. 8. Anderson recused himself Feb. 23.

The court appointed retired Justice Esther Tomljanovich to replace Anderson. In the same court order, it offered the attorneys the chance to re-argue the case April 5 if they believed the replacement appointment made re-argument necessary.

On Monday, attorney Jordan Kushner filed his request to re-argue. Kushner is representing Amanda Tatro, a mortuary science student who posted joking remarks on her Facebook profile in late 2009 about “playing” with a cadaver in an anatomy course and wanting “to stab a certain someone in the throat” with an embalming tool.

The university punished Tatro by failing her from a lab course, forcing her to enroll in an ethics course, requiring her to write an apologetic letter to the department and demanding she complete a psychiatric evaluation. She was also placed on academic probation all the way through graduation.

Coverage of the Feb. 8 arguments is available here.