[News] Colorado Supreme Court to hear Ward Churchill case

Anti-Imperialist News news at freedomarchives.org
Tue May 31 15:17:28 EDT 2011

Colorado Supreme Court to hear Ward Churchill case

CATHERINE TSAI, Associated Press

Updated 02:26 p.m., Tuesday, May 31, 2011

DENVER (AP) ­ The Colorado 
Court agreed Tuesday to hear an appeal from 
of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, who is 
trying to get his job back after he was fired in 
2007 following a public outcry over an essay in 
which he compared some Sept. 11 victims to a Nazi.

The court said it will consider whether it's a 
violation of the First Amendment for a public 
university's investigation into a tenured 
professor's work to result in termination. The 
court also will consider whether the university's 
regents are entitled to immunity from the 
lawsuit, and if Churchill can get his job back.

University officials determined his comments were 
protected by the First Amendment, but they 
launched an investigation into separate 
allegations that Churchill falsified research and 
plagiarized in other works. He was fired on 
research misconduct allegations in 2007.

"Every judge who has heard this case has found 
the university acted appropriately in terminating 
Mr. Churchill," university spokesman 
McConnellogue said. "We believe the Colorado Supreme Court will do the same."

Churchill's attorney, 
Lane, said the court's decision to hear the 
appeal is extremely important for the principles 
of academic freedom and tenure.

"If the lower court opinions stand, when a 
tenured professor is fired in retaliation for 
free speech, in violation of the First Amendment, 
a professor has no remedy," Lane said.

Churchill, a former tenured professor of ethnic 
studies, touched off a firestorm with his essay, 
which included a description of some victims of 
the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as "little 
Eichmann was the Nazi leader who helped orchestrate the Holocaust.

A jury in 2009 found the school unlawfully fired 
Churchill but awarded him only $1 in damages. 
However, a Denver District judge set aside the 
verdict and said university regents, who are 
elected, are a "quasi-judicial" panel with immunity from the lawsuit.

Court of Appeals upheld the ruling, but Lane disagreed.

"The regents violated his First Amendment rights. 
They should not be given immunity for that," Lane 
said. "When you launch a bogus investigation 
against someone because you don't like their free 
speech, you should be on the hook for that."

Churchill has been speaking around the country 
and writing but wants to work at the university again, Lane said.

Read more: 

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