Mean Speech Not Protected at Public Universities, Appeals Courts Rule

Faculty at public universities in nine states may have fewer speech protections than they assume following federal appeals court rulings against professors on the political right and left who were punished for perceived lack of collegiality – strong words short of harassment.

But a private university has egg on its face after taking seven months to allegedly clear a professor of wrongdoing for telling anti-Israel campus protesters they are “ignorant” and “Hamas are murderers,” despite having immediate access to both viral video and its own surveillance.

Five months after the Supreme Court rejected Stephen Porter’s case against North Carolina State University, which the 4th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals tossed because his criticism of diversity, equity and inclusion in his program was unrelated to “scholarship or teaching,” the 6th Circuit refused to reconsider its ruling against professors who called a colleague racist.

The May 16 ruling against Tennessee Tech professors Julia Gruber and Andrew Smith, followed by a denial of panel rehearing June 18, is marked “not recommended for publication” – meaning it shouldn’t be cited as precedent – and it’s not posted on the 6th Circuit’s free opinions database, only the pay-per-page PACER service.

UCLA by tommao wang is licensed under Unsplash

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