Academic Freedom for the Win
In a big win for academic freedom, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals held that the 2006 Supreme Court case Garcetti v Cebellos does not apply to the scholarship and teaching of faculty at public institutions.
Michael Adams, a professor at University of North Carolina – Wilmington was denied promotion, in part based on his political and social commentary. A lower court rejected Professor Adams claim that this speech was constitutionally protected.
We’ve written about how courts around the nation have mistakenly applied Garcetti to faculty scholarship, teaching and speech.
In this context the Fourth Circuit’s defense of academic freedom is cause for some celebration. The court stated that,
Applying Garcetti to the academic work of a public-university faculty member under the facts of this case could place beyond the reach of First Amendment protection many forms of public speech or service a professor engaged in during his employment… That would not appear to be what Garcetti intended, nor is it consistent with our long-standing recognition that no individual loses his ability to speak as a private citizen by virtue of public employment.
While we hope other courts follow the Fourth Circuit’s reasoning, faculty at some institutions have begun codifying commitments to academic freedom in university policy. The Center is always happy to work with faculty members who want to see these policies instituted at their campus.