Dreaming of university independence on guns | Arkansas Blog

Dreaming of university independence on guns

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A LEG TO STAND ON? Michigan case raises an argument for Arkansans who oppose guns on campus.
  • A LEG TO STAND ON? Michigan case raises an argument for Arkansans who oppose guns on campus.
The Associated Press reports that a Michigan state appeals court has ruled that the University of Michigan can ban guns on campus despite a state law that prevents local governments from putting limits on guns.

As you know, the Arkansas legislature just opened up most of the state, including state universities, to concealed pistol packers, once they get a new special guns-anywhere concealed carry permit to be issued in a few months. There also remain gun nuts in Arkansas who think open carry just about anywhere is already the law.

What if the University of Arkansas Board of Trustees said Amendment 33 to the Arkansas Constitution is imbued with the power of university independence intended on its adoption in 1942. What if powers invested in the university board could not be "transferred" to the legislature unless an institution is abolished?

Great deference, or effective transfer of power, has been given to the legislature in university matters, mainly appropriations. But what if the university board demanded sovereignty over campus public safety, including on gun toting?

It's a pipe dream to think the UA board (or any lesser state university board) would risk defiance of the legislature on something like guns, I grant you. (Playing Arkansas State is another matter.) But why not assert an argument similar to that upheld in  Michigan? There, the court held:
The university is a “state-level, not a lower level or inferior level, governmental entity. More specifically, it is a constitutional corporation of independent authority,” judges Mark Cavanagh and Deborah Servitto said.
If the University of Arkansas Board DID assert such an argument, would the Arkansas Supreme Court, increasingly deferential to the legislature, dare back the university?

Slow news day. Just day dreaming.


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