A Million-Dollar Attack on Academic Freedom
The University of Illinois violated contractual norms, norms of academic freedom, and the First Amendment when it fired Steve Salita. It has now paid for it:
Today, the Center for Constitutional Rights (CCR) and co-counsel Loevy & Loevy announced the settlement of Professor Steven Salaita’s case against the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign (UIUC) for firing him from his tenured position over his personal tweets criticizing the Israeli government’s assault on Gaza in 2014. Professor Salaita sued UIUC, the university Board of Trustees and high-level administrators for violating his First Amendment right to free speech and for breach of contract. Salaita’s firing became a flashpoint for debates over academic freedom, free speech, and the repression of Palestinian rights advocacy. In exchange for Professor Salaita’s agreement to release his claims, the university has agreed to pay $875,000.
This is a salutary outcome, and also inevitable. It was pretty clear UIUC wouldn’t want this case to go to trial.