In “The Middle Finger and the Constitution,” his most recent column for the New York Law Journal, ECBAWM partner Ilann Maazel unpacks the Second Circuit’s recent decision in Radwan v. Manuel.
Noriana Radwan was a soccer player at the University of Connecticut (UConn) when, during a post-game celebration, she raised her middle finger to a television camera. Although she apologized, UConn canceled her athletic scholarship. Radwan sued, alleging First Amendment, Due Process, and Title IX claims. The district court dismissed all of Radwan’s claims on summary judgment.
On appeal, the Second Circuit reviewed issues of free speech, qualified immunity, procedural due process, and sex discrimination. In his column, Maazel explains the Court’s reasoning and how it arrived at its conclusion that Radwan’s case may proceed to trial to resolve the factual question of whether there are “sufficiently similar” incidents with male athletes that would support a claim of sex discrimination under Title IX.
Maazel also questions the repercussions of the Court’s ruling. “Whatever happens to Radwan’s case, however, Radwan leaves us in First Amendment stasis and a familiar qualified immunity quagmire,” he writes. “We can only hope that Congress or the Supreme Court will one day let plaintiffs hold public officials accountable when they break the law, clearly established or not.”