The Law of Academic Freedom

By February 24, 2009

Over at The Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required), Peter Schmidt has reviewed the recent spate of troubling federal court decisions diminishing the Constitution’s protection of academic freedom. We have covered these developments previously, and Schmidt’s article reminds supporters of academic freedom that they have good reason to worry. Federal courts have been increasingly willing to conceive of faculty members as mere mouthpieces of the university, opening up the door for the university and other government entities to regulate faculty speech without restraint. As FIRE President Greg Lukianoff is quoted in the article, "The potential harm coming out of that can’t be overstated."

These decisions follow decades of recognition by the Supreme Court that academic freedom is of special concern to the First Amendment, and thus deviate from what was established law. FIRE will weigh in on the state of the law of academic freedom in greater detail in the coming months.