Tuesday, April 25, 2017
Tenth Circuit Upholds Lower Court Ruling of Summary Judgment For University, Against Student, In First Amendment Claim Over Paper
The Tenth Circuit rendered an opinion on the issue of balancing a student's freedom of speech argument against the right of educators to require academic standards. In Pompeo v. Board of Regents of the University of New Mexico, the court examined the claim of a graduate student that the university, through its professors and administrators, improperly burdened her freedom of expression by restricting her speech (in a paper submitted for a course) based on her viewpoint and by failing to show that the restriction was based on legitimate pedagogical goals. In effect, Ms. Pompeo argued that the university retaliated against her for a viewpoint that the instructor (and therefore the school) disfavored. The lower court had granted summary judgment based on qualified immunity. Said the court, " [W]e agree with the district court that it is unclear if courts should ask whether a defendant’s actions were subjectively retaliatory or whether the retaliatory actions were objectively unrelated to a pedagogical goal. Nevertheless, under either standard, we conclude that the actions taken by Hinkley and Dever were sufficiently related to pedagogical goals that the claimed unconstitutional nature of their particular conduct was not clearly established." It upheld the lower court's grant of summary judgment.
More here. The case is Pompeo v. Board of Regents of University of New Mexico et al., 10th Cir., No. 15-2179, decided March 28, 2017. Judge Neil Gorsuch originally considered the appeal but took no part in the writing of the opinion.
More about the case here from Reuters.