Marc Lamont Hill, a professor at Temple University and commentator for CNN, gave a speech at the U.N. that was highly critical of Israel and which many construed as advocating for the elimination of Israel. CNN promptly fired Hill and students at Temple began protesting and demanding that the university follow suit. Despite some administrators calling for the school to look into “remedies” it could take against Hill, the university reprimanded Hill but did not terminate his employment.
In October 2015, an email sent by Yale Professor Erika Christakis sparked protests among Yale Students, who called for Erika and her husband Nicholas to resign from their roles as “faculty-in-residence” at the Silliman dormitory on Yale’s campus.
In February 2015, Professor Laura Kipnis published an article criticizing Northwestern University’s policy against sexual relationships between professors and students and claiming that college campuses had a growing climate of “sexual paranoia.” In response, Northwestern students called for an apology and filed Title IX complaints against her. Northwestern ultimately found Kipnis innocent of wrongdoing.
The University of La Verne took steps to terminate tenured law professor Diane Klein as a result of Klein’s remarks that she was willing to assassinate a member of the law school faculty.
A professor of family studies at the University of Utah was subject to a Title IX investigation after an anonymous colleague reported him for gender discrimination, having taken issue with the professor’s story of his marriage proposal at a strip club.
A law professor at the University of Oregon was suspended after dressing in blackface at an off-campus Halloween party.
A professor at Brandeis University was accused of racial harassment following his use of a slur in discussion during his Latin American politics course.
Professors lacked standing to make a First Amendment claim against a university policy which barred the professors from banning concealed carry in their own classrooms. The professors believed the presence of guns in their classrooms would chill their own and their students’ speech.
Ward Churchill was a tenured professor at the University of Colorado at Boulder in early 2005 when an essay that he wrote in the aftermath of the September 11th terrorist attacks was discovered and disseminated to the general public. Among other controversial statements, Churchill’s essay likened the civilians killed in those attacks to Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi officer who had a primary role in planning the Holocaust. After investigating unrelated complaints of academic misconduct, the school terminated Churchill’s employment. Churchill filed suit in state court alleging that the school’s actions violated the First Amendment, among other claims. Although a jury found that the essay was a substantial factor in Churchill’s termination, the Supreme Court of Colorado–sitting en banc–held that the defendant-Regents who had made that termination decision were absolutely immune from suit. The Supreme Court of the United States denied certiorari, ending the lawsuit.
James Wetherbe, a professor at Texas Tech University (“TTU”), published multiple op-eds in major news publications decrying the practice of tenure at universities. In alleged retaliation, TTU took several adverse employment actions against Wetherbe, including removing him from his position as an Associate Dean. Wetherbe responded by filing a First Amendment retaliation claim in the Northern District of Texas. Although the district court dismissed his complaint, on appeal the Fifth Circuit reversed, holding that Wetherbe’s anti-tenure writings were on a matter of public concern and therefore were eligible for protection under the First Amendment. The court then remanded the case to the district court for further proceedings. Since this decision, Wetherbe has amended his complaint twice and the lawsuit is ongoing.