Case Overview

Legal Principle at Issue

Whether the respondents lack of a contractual or tenure right to reemployment, taken alone, defeats his claim that the non-renewal of his contract violated the First Amendment and whether the college refused to renew the teaching contract based on a impermissible basisas a reprisal for the exercise of the constitutionally guaranteed right to free speech.


Affirmed (includes modified). Petitioning party did not receive a favorable disposition.


Respondent was employed in a state college system for 10 years, the last four as a junior college professor under a series of one-year written contracts. The Regents declined to renew his employment for the next year without giving him an explanation or prior hearing. Respondent then brought this action in the District Court, alleging that the decision not to rehire him was based on respondent's public criticism of the college administration, and thus infringed his free speech right, and that the Regents' failure to afford him a hearing violated his procedural due process right. The District Court granted summary judgment for petitioners, concluding that respondent's contract had terminated and the junior college had not adopted the tenure system. The Court of Appeals reversed on the grounds that, despite lack of tenure, nonrenewal of respondent's contract would violate the Fourteenth Amendment if it was in fact, based on his protected free speech, and that, if respondent could show that he had an "expectancy" of reemployment, the failure to allow him an opportunity for a hearing would violate the procedural due process guarantee.

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