A State University of New York [SUNY] adjunct professor [Plaintiff] attributing his failure to advance within his department to his colleagues’ unfavorable view of the methodology he employed in his scholarship, brought an action in federal district court.
Plaintiff asserted three causes of action:
(1) A claim for damages pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983 for violat[ing] Plaintiff’s right of freedom of speech while acting under color of state law;
(2) A claim pursuant to §1983 for injunctive relief in the form of a court order to “prevent ongoing discrimination against Keynesian economists” in violation of the First Amendment; and
(3) An age discrimination claim under New York State’s Human Rights Law.
A federal district court granted SUNY's motion for summary judgment and Plaintiff appealed. The U.S. Court of Appeals, Second Circuit, noting that it "disagreed with much of the district court’s reasoning," nonetheless sustained the lower court's ultimate disposition of the case.
Citing Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410, the Circuit Court opined that Plaintiff's First Amendment claims fail because "under Pickering v. Bd. of Educ., 391 U.S. 563 (1968), a public university’s interest in deciding for itself what skills, expertise, and academic perspectives it wishes to prioritize in its hiring and staffing decisions outweighs [Plaintiff's] asserted interest in competing for academic positions unencumbered by university decision-makers’ assessment of his academic speech."
Affirming the federal district court's judgment, the Circuit Court said "If the Supreme Court’s (and this Court’s) enthusiastic endorsement of the First Amendment principles supporting a university’s academic freedom is to be given any practical bite, decision-makers within a university must be permitted to consider the content of an aspiring faculty member’s academic speech, and to make judgments informed by their own scholarly views, when making academic appointments."
Click HERE to access the Second Circuits decision posted on the Internet.