Back in March of 2010, a federal district court judge in North Carolina ruled that Professor Mike Adams' columns at Townhall.com were not protected by the First Amendment. Dr. Adams appealed that decision, gathering support from academic organizations from across the ideological spectrum. Last week, this effort was blessed with a strong, ringing defense of academic freedom from the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. And so a year after the district court's opinion, Dr. Adams fittingly announces at Townhall.com today: "Caution: This Column Now Protected by the First Amendment."
Some told us we should just give up. Others told us we should simply accept the federal judge’s decision and resign ourselves to the fact that the First Amendment is now dead on our college campuses. But the Alliance Defense Fund took my case to the United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit in January. And, last week, they issued a landmark defense of First Amendment rights for faculty at public colleges and universities. For the first time in years, I’m getting love mail from liberals.
And after explaining the Fourth Circuit's decision in a very easy to understand way (which is well worth reading in its entirety), he puts the entire case in perspective:
This all means that soon my lawyers with the ADF will go back to court to argue for a trial on the facts of my First Amendment retaliation claim. But thousands of professors in the Fourth Circuit – most of whom do not share my views - have already won a major victory. Their free speech rights once again belong to them as individuals – and not to the state that employs them.
Schools may no longer be in session, but courts still are. And this summer, that’s where several educators will find themselves.
The message from the 6th Circuit: You must respect the First Amendment rights of all professors, and that means you cannot force them to say things they do not believe.