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.