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Free Speech Protected Even at Jesuit University - High Court
Bullying Doxing Attack on Student by Professor Still Entitled to Protection
This is an important victory for free speech and academic freedom since it suggests that at all colleges and universities, not just those which are operated by the state, freedom of speech and academic freedom must be fully protected, even for speech which many would consider outrageous because it attacks a student and, according to the university,"
The minority opinion complained that the majority "fails to recognize, much less analyze, the academic freedom of Marquette as a private, Catholic, Jesuit university . . . As a result, it dilutes a private educational institution's autonomy to make its own academic decisions in fulfillment of its unique mission."
But the high court ordered that political science professor John McAdams be reinstated with "unimpaired rank, tenure, compensation, and benefits"and awarded damages, finding that "the undisputed facts show that the University breached its contract with Dr. McAdams when it suspended him for engaging in activity protected by the contract's guarantee of academic freedom."
Today's decision is especially noteworthy because the university tried to argue not just that the speech was "bullying" speech which was in fact very harmful and involved a subordinate, but that it violated so-called "professional standards of conduct."
But this standards-of-
But, as the court's decision helps establish, even these alleged standards cannot override the right of free speech protected by the Constitution at state colleges, and by contracts involving tenure and academic freedom even at private religious universities which may wish to impose their own very different standards.
JOHN F. BANZHAF III, B.S.E.E., J.D., Sc.D.
Professor of Public Interest Law
George Washington University Law School,
FAMRI Dr. William Cahan Distinguished Professor,
Fellow, World Technology Network,
Founder, Action on Smoking and Health (ASH),
2000 H Street, NW, Wash, DC 20052, USA
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