Garcetti v. Ceballos


These opinion columns by leading academics on the implications of Garcetti and the importance of protecting faculty speech are available for republication with appropriate attribution.

A Huge Loss for the Public’s Right to Know – And Its Safety

Imagine a United States in which the Constitution permitted the government to fire or otherwise punish its employees just for telling the truth about dangerous or illegal conditions. How safe would you feel? Yet the Supreme Court’s 2006 decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos empowers the government to do just that.

Academic Freedom Under Threat

During the 20th century, America’s system of higher education became the most admired in the world. This was due in no small part to the growing recognition of the importance of academic freedom and allowing faculty, because of their academic expertise, to play a major role in academic decision-making. The freedom to teach and conduct research, and to speak out on matters of institutional policy, were essential to the rise of American colleges and universities to a position of global preeminence, but these freedoms have never been fully protected as a matter of law.

Garcetti: More Chilling Than the Unabomber

Disappointing rulings are already flowing from the decision of the U.S. Supreme Court in Garcetti v. Ceballos to allow the government to control the speech of its employees. Many of these cases are detailed in a new report from the American Association of University Professors. Though comprehensive, the report does not have the space to list the dozens of cases currently moving through the system, and it could not possibly identify instances where government employees have chosen the path of least resistance by not speaking out or challenging employer decisions, knowing how the deck is now stacked against them.

Speak Up, Speak Out: Protect the Faculty Voice

In the face of unprecedented threats to academic freedom at public colleges and universities, the AAUP has launched an awareness and action campaign called "Speak Up, Speak Out: Protect the Faculty Voice on Campus."

Troubling Days for Academic Freedom

From a legal perspective, these are not good days for academic freedom. While faculty members have not been losing their jobs for political reasons, as they did during the McCarthy era in the 1950s, the freedom of expression that they enjoy in their classrooms, their research and their other professional work is increasingly at risk.

The AAUP Action Plan for Protecting an Independent Faculty Voice

It is essential that faculty members have the freedom to speak on topics important to both the academic community and the public as a whole. At public colleges and universities across the country, however, faculty are facing a very real and serious threat to their academic freedom and speech rights. 

How-to and Success Stories and Policies

The pieces below were written by faculty who have spearheaded successful efforts to amend policies on their campuses in order to protect the right of faculty to participate in shared governance.  We have also compiled a summary of policies passed at public institutions and organizations in response to post-Garcetti threats to academic freedom and shared governance; we hope the chart below is useful in your efforts to implement similar language.  See also the end of the subcommittee’s report  (.pdf) or executive summary for suggested policy language.

Defending Academic Freedom in the Age of Garcetti

As the 2006 Supreme Court decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos continues to reverberate in academe, the best way for faculty members to defend their academic freedom is not through the courts but through clear university policies.


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