Academic Freedom and Institutional Matters

Crue v. Aiken, 204 F. Supp. 2d 1130 (C.D. Ill. 2002); Crue v. Aiken, 370 F.3d 668 (7th Cir. 2004 )

This case involves a challenge by faculty and students at the University of Illinois-Champaign to the administration's policy prohibiting them from communicating with prospective student athletes.

Association of Christian Schools International, et al. v. Roman Stearns, et al., 362 Fed. Appx. 640 (9th Cir. 2010)

The  plaintiffs argued that  the University of California’s admission process ,which evaluated high school courses to ensure they were college preparatory, violated their First Amendment rights. The AAUP’s amicus brief urges the Ninth Circuit to affirm the district court’s decision that the University of California’s admission process is constitutional and emphasizes that faculty involvement in the university’s admissions process is crucial to academic freedom.  

Schrier v. University of Colorado, 427 F.3d 1253 (10th Cir. 2005)

Dr. Robert Schrier, a tenured faculty member, alleged that university employees terminated his chairmanship in retaliation for his public speech about the financial feasibility of moving a health sciences center. The district court opined that Dr. Schrier's status as a university professor did not entitled him to rights distinctive from those of any other public employees. 

Urofsky v. Gilmore, 216 F.3d 401 (4th Cir. 2000)

Several Virginia public college and university  professors challenged a law that restricted the ability of state employees to access sexually explicit material on state-owned or state-leased computers, alleging that the law interferes with their academic freedom to research and teach.

Junger v. Daley, 209 F.3d 481 (6th Cir. 2000)

Professor Junger, who teaches a course called  "Computers and the Law” at Case Western Reserve University,  sued the U.S. Department of Commerce, challenging regulations that prohibit him from posting to his website various encryption programs that he wrote to show his students how computers work.

Columbia Union College v. Clarke, 988 F. Supp. 897 (D. Md. 1997); Columbia Union College v. Oliver, 254 F.3d 496 (4th Cir. 2001)

This case involved state funding for religious institutions, and the use of academic freedom as a standard to determine whether an institution is so pervasively sectarian as to be ineligible for state funding.

Kincaid v. Gibson, 236 F.3d 342 (6th Cir. 2001)

Plaintiffs sued, alleging a violation of their First Amendment rights when college administrators banned the distribution of a student-created college yearbook based on its cover and contents.

City & Cty. of San Francisco v. Trump, 897 F. 3d 1225 (9th Cir. 2018)

The Circuit Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit declared unconstitutional the Trump administration's executive order withholding federal funds from sanctuary cities and counties. The AAUP joined an amicus brief opposing the executive order and supporting a permanent injunction preventing its enforcement. The appeals court held that under the principle of Separation of Powers and in consideration of the Spending Clause, which vests exclusive power to Congress to impose conditions on federal grants, the executive branch may not refuse to disperse the federal grants in question without congressional authorization. Because Congress has not acted, the panel affirmed the district court’s decision finding that the Executive Order was unconstitutional. The appeals court upheld the permanent injunction preventing enforcement of the order against the city and county of San Francisco and in California, but lifted the nationwide injunction and sent the case back to the lower court for a more searching inquiry into the need for such relief.

Dep't of Homeland Sec. v. Regents of Univ. of Cal. et. al., No. 18-587 (U.S. S.Ct. 2019)(appeal pending)

The AAUP, together with forty-three educational associations, signed onto an amicus brief prepared by the American Council on Education to the Supreme Court of the United States in support of upholding the Deferred Action for Childhood Arrivals (“DACA”) program in the consolidated DACA (also known as “Dreamers”) cases, Dep't of Homeland Sec. v. Regents of Univ. of Cal.et.al., 2019 U.S. LEXIS 4407 (9th Cir. 2018).  The amicus brief informs the court that the DACA policy “has made it newly possible for countless Dreamers to get a postsecondary education and unlock the potential such an education affords,” and argues that if the Supreme Court allows the administration to end DACA all those gains would be reversed. The Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral argument in this case on November 12, 2019, and a decision is expected before June of 2020.  The Trump administration moved to end DACA in 2017, but federal courts blocked that attempt. Following a brief hiatus, the government began accepting renewal applications from DACA participants, which must be filed every two years. In January 2018, a federal court issued an order that blocked the government from ending the program; similar orders from two other courts soon followed. In an unusual move, the Trump administration came directly to the Supreme Court late last year, asking the justices to weigh in on two questions: Whether the decision to end DACA is the kind of action that courts can review at all; and, even if it is, whether the decision to end the program was legal. Just a few days after the government petitioned for review in the Supreme Court, the Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit upheld one of the district court’s orders requiring the Trump administration to keep the DACA program in place. The Supreme Court consolidated these cases and on June 28, 2019, it granted the Government’s petition for writ of certiorari.

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