The Corner

“Wrongful” or Just Plain Wrong

New York Times:

DENVER — A jury found on Thursday that the University of Colorado had wrongfully dismissed a professor who drew national attention for an essay in which he called some victims of the Sept. 11 attacks “little Eichmanns.”

But the jury, which deliberated for a day and a half, awarded only $1 in damages to the former professor, Ward L. Churchill, a tenured faculty member at the university’s campus in Boulder since 1991 who was chairman of the ethnic studies department.

The jurors found that Mr. Churchill’s political views had been a “substantial or motivating” factor in his dismissal, and that the university had not shown that he would have been dismissed anyway.

“This is a great victory for the First Amendment, and for academic freedom,” said his lawyer, David A. Lane.

Whether Mr. Churchill, 61, will get his job back, and when, was not resolved. Mr. Churchill’s lawyers said they would ask Judge Larry J. Naves of Denver District Court to order reinstatement, in light of the verdict.

A spokesman for the university, Ken McConnellogue, said administrators would oppose the request. Reinstatement, Mr. McConnellogue said, would probably draw a sharp reaction among many faculty members, because a faculty committee was instrumental in his firing.

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