Truth is being silenced by secrecy in government, media consolidation, criminalization of political dissent, and smear campaigns. Education is under assault because it provides access to the historical truths, critical thinking, and alternative perspectives that lay the groundwork for structural change.
In solidarity with Ward Churchill, the WCSN is dedicated to resisting the silencing of political dissent, repression of indigenous struggles and attacks on academic freedom.
In the News:
Churchill v. CU: On to the Colorado Supreme Court?
Jan. 10, 2011. Ward Churchill's attorneys filed a petition today asking the Colorado Supreme Court to review the decision of the court of appeals because:
(1) the jury should have been allowed to decide whether CU's 2005 investigation into "every word" Ward Churchill published or spoke publicly violated his First Amendment rights;
(2) CU & its Regents should not have absolute immunity from suit when they fire a tenured professor in violation of the U.S. Constitution; and
(3) Ward Churchill should have been reinstated after the jury decided unanimously that he was fired for speech protected by First Amendment, not for alleged research misconduct.
Click here to read the Petition for Writ of Certiorari.
Court of Appeals: CU, Regents Cannot Be Sued for Violating U.S. Constitution
Nov. 23, 2010. The Colorado Court of Appeals ruled that the University of Colorado and its Regents have absolute immunity when firing a tenured professor in violation of the First Amendment.
Attorney David Lane responds:
It is truly unfortunate that our most cherished freedoms are left in the hands of politicians and bureaucrats in black robes to protect. We are less free today because the Colorado Court of Appeals has given the go-ahead to the Regents to fire any professors they wish after running them through a sham “due process” procedure. A jury of Professor Churchill’s peers found that the Regents violated the First Amendment to the United States Constitution and the Colorado Court of Appeals is letting them get away with it. Their made-up justifications ring hollow in light of the freedom lost by their actions.
Ward Churchill summarizes the ruling:
The Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) is wrong.
The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) is wrong.
The American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU) is wrong.
The ACLU of Colorado is wrong.
The Society of American Law Teachers (SALT) is wrong.
The National Lawyers Guild (NLG) is wrong.
The National Coalition Against Censorship is wrong.
Latina/o Critical Legal Theory is wrong.
And Federal law doesn’t apply in Colorado.
Click here to read the Court of Appeals' opinion.
Ward Churchill’s appeal brief and the amicus briefs filed by the AAUP, ACLU, National Lawyers Guild, and other organizations are linked below.
Linked here are CU’s Answer and amicus briefs filed by the Colorado Attorney General and Colorado Counties, Inc., and Ward Churchill’s Reply Brief.
Civil Rights and First Amendment Groups Urge Colorado Court of Appeals to Reinstate Jury Verdict:
Briefs filed in Churchill v. CU appeal
“The University was not entitled to quasi-judicial immunity because the Regents were not acting in a judicial capacity. . . . They had pre-judged the case based on their own political viewpoints and political pressure. . . . . Reinstatement is appropriate in this case because it is the preferred remedy for a First Amendment violation.”
Read Ward Churchill’s Opening Brief
“Academic freedom, a central component of the First Amendment and essential to a thriving democracy, is imperiled when state university officials succumb to political pressure to fire a tenured professor over constitutionally protected statements. Affording the shield of absolute immunity to university officials and vacating a jury finding of wrongful discharge . . . . threatens the fundamental rights of all faculty members. Fidelity to the rule of law requires a remedy for those deprived of their constitutional rights by state officials. . . .”
Read Amicus Brief of National Lawyers Guild, Center for Constitutional Rights, Society of American Law Teachers, Latina/o Critical Legal Theory, and Individual Attorneys and Law Professors.
“Despite [the Supreme Court’s] very clear protection of the right of university professors to engage in lawful speech without fear of retaliation, the trial court’s opinion renders this protection illusory for the over 8,000 professors in the University of Colorado system. . . .”
Read Amicus Brief of American Civil Liberties Union, the ACLU of Colorado, the American Association of University Professors (AAUP) and the National Coalition Against Censorship
Churchill v. CU:Appeal Filed
On Aug. 13, 2009, Ward Churchill's attorneys filed a Notice of Appeal in the Colorado Court of Appeals. It contests Judge Naves' vacating of the jury verdict, his refusal to grant reinstatement, and many of his rulings during the trial.
Churchill Attorneys: Judge Naves’ Opinion Vacating Jury Verdict Misrepresented Law and Facts
On April 2, 2009, after a 4-week trial, a Denver jury unanimously found that the University of Colorado had violated the First Amendment by firing Professor Ward Churchill not because of alleged research misconduct, but because of his constitutionally protected speech.
After all this, Denver District Court Judge Larry Naves vacated the jury verdict, holding that the University and the Regents had “quasi-judicial” immunity and should never have been sued in the first place. Just in case that didn’t stick, he also went on to opine that Ward Churchill should neither be reinstated nor receive compensation.
Attorney David Lane has filed a Motion for Reconsideration, the first step in the appeal process. It says:
What’s wrong with Judge Naves’ opinion? Read the full Motion for Reconsideration
None dare call it plagiarism? Compare the judge’s ruling with CU’s pleadings [Exh.1]
What did the jurors really think? Read affidavit of Juror Bethany Newill [Exh.2]
Click here to see the jury verdict form.
Judge Naves Tosses the Jury Verdict; Says the Regents are Immune from Suit
July 7, 2009
On April 2, 2009, after hearing evidence for a month, a Denver jury unanimously found that Ward Churchill had been fired from the University of Colorado not because of research misconduct but in retaliation for speech protected by the First Amendment.
After more than four years of political attacks on Ward Churchill, a clear statement had been made: the University of Colorado had violated the U.S. Constitution when it fired Churchill, a tenured full professor of American Indian Studies.
The normal remedy in such cases? Reinstatement... read more
Click to read Russell Means’ response.
Professors and attorneys urge Judge Naves to reinstate Churchill.