Tuesday, September 11, 2012

Remember that Professor Who Compared 9/11 Victims to Nazis?

Remember Ward Churchill? He is best known for his "scholarly" work calling the people killed in the World Trade Center on 9/11 "little Eichmanns" (this Eichmann, the Nazi). The University of Colorado subsequently investigated him and found that he had plagiarized writings, fabricated research, and falsified academic writings. So, they fired him. Specifically, the Board of Regents voted to terminate him.

Here it is, September 11, and coincidentally I'm writing about Ward Churchill. Why? He claimed he was terminated in retaliation for his First Amendment-protected speech. Yesterday (coincidentally?) the Colorado Supreme Court handed Ward Churchill the latest in a series of losses, in Churchill v. Univ. of Colorado at Boulder.

The Colorado Supreme Court was kind enough to issue its opinion with an "Advance Sheet Headnote" (which seems akin to the SCOTUS Syllabus), including this concise summary:
The supreme court affirms the court of appeals and the trial court, both of which held that Professor Ward Churchill was not entitled to any of the remedies that he sought. Churchill brought a claim under 42 U.S.C. § 1983 claiming that the University of Colorado at Boulder opened an investigation into his academic integrity in retaliation for the publication of a controversial essay, and that both the investigation and resulting termination of his employment violated his free speech rights. The proceedings against Churchill took more than two years and included five separate opportunities for Churchill to present witnesses, cross-examine adverse witnesses, and argue his positions. It possessed the characteristics of an adversary proceeding and was functionally comparable to a judicial proceeding. Hence, the supreme court holds that the Regents’ termination proceeding was a quasi-judicial proceeding, and the Regents are entitled to absolute immunity.
According to the National Law Journal, Churchill's attorney claims he's taking his case all the way to the U.S. Supreme Court. We'll see . . . .

Image: Ward Churchill speaking at the Bay Area Anarchist Book Fair; Wikimedia Commons - Licensing Information.