Colorado Supreme Court to issue ruling (Monday) on forcing the University of Colorado to re-hire Ward Churchill
The Colorado Supreme Court is scheduled to announce a ruling in the case filed by fired University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill, who sought a court order forcing CU to re-instate him as a tenured professor at the university, this Monday (according to a report filed by Law Week Colorado).
A ruling Monday will represent an extraordinarily rapid resolution of the case (oral arguments before the court were held as recently as June 7th of this year), which probably does not bode well for Churchill. Churchill sought to present the case as a 1st Amendment issue; the CU Board of Regents argued that it has “quasi-judicial immunity” in hiring (and firing) decisions. As reported in the Denver Post late May, the court’s ruling will likely address both arguments:
The Colorado Supreme Court announced in 2011 that it would hear Churchill’s appeal, including a key argument about the quasi-judicial immunity doctrine that Churchill and his attorneys have challenged, arguing it threatens academic freedom and tenure at universities.
In addition to reviewing whether granting CU’s Board of Regents quasi-judicial immunity comports with federal law, the Supreme Court will consider whether CU violated Churchill’s First Amendment rights and whether Churchill can be given back his job as an ethnic studies professor — which attorney David Lane said Churchill still wants.
As reported by Clear The Bench Colorado at the end of May, Churchill’s attempts to portray the case as an issue of “academic freedom and tenure at universities” were undermined by the backing of many academic groups (including the American Council on Education, National Association of Independent Colleges and Universities, the American Association of State Colleges and Universities, and the Association of American Universities) for the University of Colorado Board of Regents’ decision (and right) to fire Ward Churchill.
In the academic groups’ amicus brief filed with the Colorado Supreme Court supporting the University of Colorado’s position, the groups state that
the principles of academic freedom should result in support for the university’s position. “Because universities are the entities best suited to make decisions about their faculties, they are entitled to autonomy in adjudicating claims regarding academic integrity.”
The academic associations further argue that overturning the appeals court decision
would not only infringe on the institutional autonomy that is the cornerstone of academic freedom, but would chill universities’ incentive to provide robust internal processes for faculty misconduct proceedings.
Free speech and academic freedom are important rights worthy of being defended, but Ward Churchill’s transparent attempt to extend his played-out “fifteen minutes of fame” and violate the rights of others (including forcing the University of Colorado – and by extension, Colorado taxpayers – to provide him a sheltered, comfortable livelihood) is, contrariwise, contemptible. The Colorado Supreme Court should not play the bully by forcing CU to re-hire this confirmed fraud and cheat.
Clear The Bench Colorado will, with your support, continue to promote transparency and accountability in the Colorado judiciary, informing the public to increase awareness of the substantial public policy implications of an unrestrained activism and political agendas in the courts. We will continue to work to educate voters and provide information of relevance related to the judicial branch, and to provide useful and substantive evaluations of judicial performance.
Ultimately, though – it’s worth the effort.