University of San Diego: Law school professor investigated for blog post about COVID-19

Category: Free Speech
Schools: University of San Diego

On March 10, 2021, Thomas Smith, a law professor at the University of San Diego School of Law, posted on his personal blog an excerpt from a Wall Street Journal article about the origin of COVID-19. Smith added his commentary to the excerpt, stating that those who believe the coronavirus was not created in a lab in Wuhan, China, are swallowing “Chinese cock swaddle.” Following student complaints, USD initiated an investigation into Smith over the post. On March 22, FIRE wrote to USD Law to explain that the law school’s investigation into Smith’s extramural speech violates the strong promises of academic freedom that it makes to its faculty. After the university responded that it was still reviewing Smith for his blog post, FIRE wrote a second letter explaining that there was nothing to review because Smith’s speech was protected speech. On May 4, almost two months after it began, USD ended its investigation into Smith, determining that the post was protected by the university’s academic freedom policy.