Phillip Suderman · January 23, 2024

ARLINGTON, Va.—Today, the deadline for the North Carolina Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors to appeal Chief Judge Richard Myers’ decision—which held that the Board violated the First Amendment when it ordered retired engineer Wayne Nutt to stop expressing opinions about engineering without a state license—has passed. That decision now stands as law.

Nutt, represented by the Institute for Justice (IJ), had filed the lawsuit after the Board sent him a series of threatening letters ordering him to stop publicly offering opinions about engineering without a license, on pain of potential criminal punishment. It is now established that those letters—and the law they were based on—violate the First Amendment.

“The district court’s decision here makes clear that the power to license an occupation does not come with the power to censor speech,” explained IJ Senior Attorney Robert McNamara. “In this country we rely on people to decide who they want to listen to rather than relying on the government to decide who is allowed to speak. We’re thrilled that the court has reaffirmed that very important principle for Wayne and everyone else like him.”

In a related case also involving the North Carolina Board of Examiners for Engineers and Surveyors and the First Amendment, IJ today presented oral arguments for the rights of a drone operator to operate. More on that case can be found here.

#  #  #

                       To arrange interviews on this subject, journalists may contact Phillip Suderman, IJ’s Communications Project Manager at [email protected] (850) 376-4110. More information on the case is available at: