Court Denies Ward Churchill Reinstatement on Colorado Faculty

200px-Ward_Churchillcu_crestJudge Larry J. Naves has denied former University of Colorado Professor Ward Churchill reinstatement despite a ruling from a jury that his termination for plagiarism was politically motivated. The jury awarded Churchill $1 in damages.

The University was under intense public pressure to fire Churchill after he analogized victims of the Sept. 11th attacks to “little Eichmanns.” The University proceeded to apply equal pressure on faculty to fire him. When the faculty refused to fire him for his views as a matter of free speech and academic freedom, the University pushed for an alternative basis to fire him.

163289762Naves ruling is hard to reconcile with the jury decision. If the termination was abusive, the obvious remedy is reinstatement. I do not particularly like Churchill, but it seems bizarre that he would prevail in showing an abusive termination but receive neither substantive damages nor reinstatement.

The clear message received by the University is the wrong one. The University opposed the reinstatement on the ground that, if he returned, the relationship “would not be an amicable one.” That was obvious from the jury verdict. However, that is like using the bias as a defense. First, the University is found to have improperly terminated Churchill due to its hatred for his views but then successfully blocks reinstatement due to its hatred for his views.

mainUniversity President Bruce Benson said “[t]his ruling recognizes that the regents have to make important and difficult decisions. The threat of litigation should not be used to influence those decisions.” That sounds like the university still believes that it made the right decision despite the jury ruling and considers Naves decision as a vindication.

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5 thoughts on “Court Denies Ward Churchill Reinstatement on Colorado Faculty”

  1. Some people have told him there are consequences to free speech. They don’t understand the concept, he said: “If there are consequences, it’s not free.”

    – “(…)Tolerance for politically unpopular views is not always evident on campuses, any more than it is in the world at large, but the university bears a special responsibility to protect freedom of thought and expression. The right to speak, write and think independently is at the core of higher education. It is up to members of the academy to convey this critical message not only to their students but to a larger community. This goal can be advanced if, in the future, similar controversies are addressed in a more deliberative fashion, with regard for all the interests and values at stake(…)” (J. Bertin – NCAC)

    I’m an intern at NCAC (National Coalition Against Censorship) at the moment.
    We also wrote about this case regarding the connection to the First Amendment Rights. If you’re interested in that citation above just visit our homepage ( or join our blog (

    We’re glad about a lot comments as well as a lively discussion!

    Greetings Jana

  2. Just how important that you don’t like Prof Churchill to this story?

    I can’t believe it does.

    Remember when they come for you maybe no one will be there to help.

  3. To Jim

    You’re right. The things that are going on “in plain sight”, but under the radar of most are unconscionable and decidedly unAmerican. We are moving closer and closer to becoming a police state. It’s pretty clear to some of us — law abiding, patriotic, good, loyal citizens — that fascism has come to America. As Judge Anthony Napolitano wrote, we are indeed “a nation of sheep.”

  4. Every day it becomes more apparent that America is not the land of the free and the home of the brave.

  5. What ever happened to academic freedom, the cornerstone the linchpin of academia? Do I hear Dante is in the room? Any room for Faulkner or Steinbeck?

    The best way to silence them is the Dan Rather way, oh, they did that here as well.

    They have already done it in the legal profession.

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