Garrett v. Hine

April 2019
Bakersfield College (Public college or university)
Bakersfield, CA, United States

Identity of Speakers

  • Matthew Garrett

    Matthew Garrett is a history professor at Bakersfield College.

  • Erin Miller

    Erin Miller is a history professor at Bakersfield College.


Additional Information

  • Incident Nature:
    University-sponsored lecture/address/panel
  • Incident Political Orientation:
  • Incident Responses:
    University investigation not issuing in sanctions
  • Incident Status:
    In litigation Federal District Court
  • Was Speech Code incident


Matthew Garrett and Erin Miller are tenured history professors at Bakersfield College, part of the Kern Community College District (KCCD). In April 2019, stickers featuring such statements as “Smash cultural Marxism” began to appear on campus. Garrett, who along with Miller is a part of an on-campus right-of-center organization called the Liberty Institute, publicly questioned whether the stickers were intended to protest the use of taxpayer money to support a one-sided agenda. According to Garrett and Miller’s civil complaint, this led some faculty members and students to accuse Garrett of advocating for white supremacism.

In September 2019, Garrett delivered a public lecture in which he complained that grant money given by the college supported a partisan agenda. After identifying certain BC faculty he said received such grants and directed them to further a social-justice agenda, Garrett called for an investigation of how that money is spent. The following month, two professors filed a formal complaint against Garrett. Bakersfield College’s administration tried to mediate, but stopped after a December interview in which Garrett again criticized the way faculty were directing grant money.

In August 2020, administrators initiated an investigation to determine whether Garrett and Miller had engaged in unprofessional conduct in violation of KCCD policies. Less than two months later, investigators concluded that Garrett and Miller had engaged in misconduct. According to Garrett and Miller’s complaint, administrators’ characterization of the September presentation as defamatory was done to placate the professors who had filed the accusations against Garrett and Miller.

On May 25, 2021, Garrett and Miller filed a lawsuit in the United States District Court for the Eastern District of California against various college administrators, alleging violations of their constitutional rights to free speech. This case is ongoing.