Thursday, May 21, 2015

Professors Face Long Odds in Court Battles Over Speech Rights

The Chronicle of Higher Education
May 21st, 2015

Appeals to the principle of academic freedom may sway campus debates over speech, but college instructors might want to think twice before using them as the basis of lawsuits against their employers.
An analysis of 50 years’ worth of court rulings in faculty members’ First Amendment lawsuits against colleges has found that the instructors lost a solid majority of the time, and their prospects of winning declined as disputes dragged on into appeals courts.
Moreover, the study of more than 200 federal and state court decisions found, only a handful of court rulings hinged on the academic-freedom definitions and standards published by the American Association of University Professors and widely used by colleges. Being censured by the AAUP appeared to do little to make colleges vulnerable to First Amendment lawsuits.

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