Garcetti and Salaita: Revisiting Academic Freedom

By Andrew Squires

Abstract:

This article revisits the legal concept of academic freedom in the wake of Professor Steven Salaita’s dehiring and the 2006 US Supreme Court decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos. The Garcetti decision narrowed the scope of protected employee speech. However, the Court left unclear how, and to what extent, the decision applies to higher education. As a result, subsequent lower court decisions have reached varying conclusions about the scope and limits of academic freedom. This article examines four key post-Garcetti decisions, each of which illustrates a potential solution to courts facing issues of academic freedom, and each of which has different implications for Professor Salaita’s dehiring. Given the uncertain application of Garcetti to higher education, this issue will likely again come before the Supreme Court. Thus, this article also proposes a new legal concept of academic freedom that would empower rather than restrict professors.

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