Letter: CCR Urges University of Illinois Chancellor to Reconsider Unlawful Firing of Palestinian-American Professor Over Gaza Tweets
The Center for Constitutional Rights sent a letter to University of Illinois Chancellor Phyllis M. Wise today urging the University to reconsider its unprecedented decision to terminate the tenured appointment of Steven Salaita in the University’s American Indian Studies program. The letter advises Wise that the First Amendment prohibits the repression of speech on matters of public concern. The letter states:
An attempt by university officials to repress or penalize speech on a matter of public concern such as Israel/Palestine because of disagreement with its message is impermissible “viewpoint discrimination,” a serious First Amendment violation. R.A.V. v. City of St. Paul, 505 U.S. 377 (1992). As the Supreme Court has long stressed, “If there is a bedrock principle underlying the First Amendment, it is that the government may not prohibit the expression of an idea simply because society finds the idea itself offensive or disagreeable.” Texas v. Johnson, 491 U.S. 397, 414 (1989).
The University offered Salaita a position, with tenure, in October 2013. Salaita accepted the offer, resigned his tenured position at Virginia Tech University, rented out his Virginia home and made preparations to move his family to Illinois. On August 1, 2014, the Office of the Chancellor notified Salaita that it was terminating his position based on the substance of his tweets.
To read the full letter, click here.