Robert Schrier, M.D., is a tenured faculty member at the University of Colorado School of Medicine, and was chair of the department of medicine for over 20 years, until the administration removed him from that position in October 2002. Dr. Schrier opposed a proposal and ultimate decision of the Board of Regents to move the medical school to another campus. He sued the school, arguing, in part, this his removal as chair violated his First Amendment right of academic freedom, and seeking reinstatement. The district court rejected Dr. Schrier's legal claims. In particular, the district court opined that Dr. Schrier's status as a university professor, who also served as department chair, entitled him to no rights distinctive from those of any other public employees. Dr. Schrier appealed the ruling to the Tenth Circuit. In December 2003, the AAUP filed an amicus brief in the case, which was written by lawyers at Covington & Burling. The AAUP brief argues that a distinctive First Amendment right to academic freedom exists, and to rule otherwise conflicts with U.S. Supreme Court precedent and other federal appellate courts, including the Tenth Circuit. Read the brief (pdf).
Status: On November 1, 2005 the Tenth Circuit affirmed the denial of Schrier's injunction by the lower court, affirming that Schrier's speech was on a matter of public concern, but ruling that the administration's interest in suppressing Schrier's speech outweighed his right to free expression. The decision is available at http://www.kscourts.org/ca10/cases/2005/10/03-1275.htm.