I think Mikhail posted something about this a while back, but I just came across this update and thought I’d post it here. It appears that a judge ruled that faculty at public colleges and universities don’t have any protection under the first amendment when criticizing administrators and the administration. Yikes.
A bitter dispute over a tenured professor fired by Idaho State University has become the latest case in which a court has suggested that faculty members at public colleges and universities do not have First Amendment protection when criticizing their administrations.While the individual case of Habib Sadid continues to be much debated at the university, the way the judge ruled in the case has advocates for faculty members concerned.
The language in the decision “eviscerates the identity and role that a faculty member plays” in public higher education, said Rachel Levinson, senior counsel for the American Association of University Professors. The decision applies to a higher education context several court cases that the AAUP believes should not be applied to higher education, and one case involving higher education that the AAUP believes was wrongly decided because of reliance on the other cases. In many respects, the ruling in Sadid represents an extreme form of a legal pattern the AAUP recently warned was eroding faculty rights at public colleges
Sadid was a frequent, caustic critic of his university’s administration — in ways that many at Idaho State (in particular the administration) believed crossed over lines of professionalism, but that he said represented the appropriate right to express dissent. He was fired despite a faculty panel’s finding that there was not cause to do so, and his suit against the university charges that the university denied him his First Amendment rights by dismissing him.
Of particular concern to faculty members, Levinson said, is language in the ruling that suggests that professors at public colleges and universities have no more rights than employees of other institutions. In dismissing his suit, Judge David C. Nye cited several other cases that involve the right of employers to limit their employees’ public statements. “Sadid should understand that he has limitations of his speech that he accepted when becoming a state employee,” Nye wrote.
Read the rest here. As usual in articles like these, the comments are more interesting. Here’s an early comment whose sentiments are applauded a couple of times throughout:
Posted on December 23, 2009 at 9:15am EST: Good. Faculty have come to expect complete unaccountability for their actions. Its time that they were brought inline with the rest of the workforce.
This just betrays a total ignorance of academia, but this whole thing kind of, kind of sounds a bit like French novelist Michel Houellebecq exercising his right to call Islam a stupid religion. That is, there is a difference between criticism and mere attacks.