University of North Carolina at Wilmington: Invasion of Professor’s Privacy and Suppression of Speech


University of North Carolina - Wilmington

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Case Overview


A student at the University of North Carolina at Wilmington sent an email to Professor Mike Adams and others blaming the September 11th 2001 terrorist attacks on the United States. She asked recipients to forward it those interested in "open" discussion. When Adams complied, forwarding it to others accompanied with his own criticism of her ideas, the student demanded that the University grant her access to the professor's private emails so that she could sue him. Although UNC-W's legal counsel acknowledged the student's claims were without legal merit, the administration nevertheless examined the professor's private correspondence. FIRE wrote to UNC-W Chancellor James Leutze pointing out Professor Adams was protected under the First Amendment, and therefore entitled to criticize the student's work. Chancellor Leutze, under intense media scrutiny, declared that Adams was never investigated.