Wilson v. Houston Community College System

January 2017
Houston Community College (Public college or university)
Houstin, TX, United States

Identity of Speakers

  • Patrick Wilson

    Patrick Wilson was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Houston Community College (HCC) System.

Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
  • Incident Political Orientation:
  • Incident Responses:
  • Incident Status:
    In litigation U.S. Supreme Court
  • No protest Occured
  • Did not involve Speech Codes


Patrick Wilson was a member of the Board of Trustees of the Houston Community College (HCC) System. Beginning in 2017, Wilson voiced concern that trustees were violating the Board’s bylaws and not acting in the best interests of HCC. For example, after disagreeing with HCC’s decision to fund a campus in Qatar, Wilson made his complaints public by arranging robocalls regarding the Board’s actions and interviewing with a local radio station. Wilson maintained a website where he published his concerns, referring to his fellow trustees and HCC by name. Wilson also filed two lawsuits in state court alleging that the Board had violated its bylaws.

On January 18, 2018, the Board voted to censure Wilson for his actions. Upon being censured, Wilson amended his state-court petition to include claims against HCC and the trustees under 42 U.S.C. § 1983, asserting that the censure violated his First Amendment right to free speech and his Fourteenth Amendment right to equal protection. Wilson sought an injunction, punitive damages, and attorney’s fees.

HCC moved to dismiss Wilson’s suit pursuant to Rule 12(b)(1) for lack of jurisdiction. The district court granted HCC’s motion to dismiss for lack of jurisdiction, determining that Wilson could not demonstrate an injury in fact and therefore lacked Article III standing. On appeal, the Court of Appeals for the Fifth Circuit reversed the district court’s ruling and remanded Wilson’s § 1983 claim for damages for further proceedings. On April 19, 2021, the Supreme Court of the United States granted a petition for a writ of certiorari. This case is ongoing.