National Lawyers Guild Files Amicus Brief on Behalf of Professor Ward Churchill

February 22, 2010
Paige Cram
Communications Coordinator
212-679-5100, ext. 15

The National Lawyers Guild filed an amicus curiae (“friend of the court”) brief in the Colorado Court of Appeals on February 18 in the case of Churchill v. The University of Colorado in support of the tenured professor who was fired over constitutionally-protected statements.

In the brief, the Guild argues that politically-motivated, wrongful discharges are a threat to academic freedom and the First Amendment rights of all university faculty members. Universities are traditionally a haven for free speech, but allowing the termination of faculty over unpopular, but constitutionally-protected, comments will have a chilling effect on campuses nationwide. The brief notes, “The suppression of free inquiry and critical thinking vitiates the First Amendment and undermines the foundation of higher learning in this country.”

The Board of Regents of the University of Colorado launched an ad hoc investigation into all of Professor Churchill’s writings and public statements after he wrote a post-9/11 op-ed critical of U.S. foreign policy. This is part of an alarming trend, particularly on campuses, by reactionary forces to persecute and expel progressives who voice dissent.

The brief was submitted in conjunction with the Center for Constitutional Rights, Latina/o Critical Legal Theory, Inc, and the Society of American Law Teachers, as well as several individual attorneys. The full text of the brief is available on our amicus curiae page.

The National Lawyers Guild was founded in 1937 and is the oldest and largest public interest/human rights bar organization in the United States. Its headquarters are in New York and it has chapters in every state.