Thursday, February 03, 2005

Can Ward Churchill Be Fired?

CNN reports:
The university's Board of Regents planned to meet in an emergency session Thursday to discuss Churchill, who resigned as chairman of the university's department of ethnic studies this week. He remains a professor.

Gov. Bill Owens called on Churchill to resign his faculty position, saying taxpayers shouldn't have to subsidize his "outrageous and insupportable" views that defy the facts of history.
They're calling on Churchill to resign because, unlike a private employer, a public institution accepting government funds cannot violate Churchill's freedom of expression, no matter how vile his utterances, by firing him. Of course, there was also this from the CNN story:
...four professors from the university's ethnic studies department expressed "unconditional support" for Churchill's "freedom of expression and First Amendment rights."
(The Dread Pundit Bluto wonders if they would be so quick to jump to his defense if he were espousing controversial right-wing views.)

But wait, there is also a statement from the American Indian Movement accusing Churchill of fraudulently claiming American Indian status. Odds are Churchill's supposed American Indian connection weighed heavily in his selection to head the University's department of ethnic studies.

Lying for purposes of defrauding an employer is not considered protected free speech. The Board of Regents can certainly discharge him for this reason alone.