Faculty Speech Rights Rejected

by E Wayne Ross on December 23, 2009

Inside Higher Ed: Faculty Speech Rights Rejected

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.