In his EEOC complaint, he alleges a breach of contract, defamation and discrimination against him based on race and gender.
During his tenure at Miami, Ravicher was a relative rarity not just at the law school but in academia as an open supporter of Donald Trump. Most faculties at national universities are overwhelmingly liberal and Democratic. In the view of some academics (including myself), the ideological imbalance has led to a pronounced bias in hiring at many schools as well as conflicts over academic freedom. Indeed, that is one of the issues that I address in a forthcoming law review article. Jonathan Turley, Harm and Hegemony: The Decline of Free Speech in the United States, 45 Harvard Journal of Law and Public Policy (2021).
Ravicher was outspoken in his views outside of the school. That drew objections from some students. Many of the tweets referenced in earlier articles appear to be deleted. However, the accounts state that Ravicher accused of Democrats of cheating in the election. He is also quoted as saying “Cheating in politics is as American as apple pie. If you’re good enough to get away with it you deserve to win. That’s how it always been and how it always will be.” He reportedly discussed the demographic and political voting patterns of minority voters while welcoming disagreement.
On Nov. 4, Ravicher made unsubstantiated claims about cheating in major cities:
“Democrats in Philly, Atlanta, Detroit, and other swing state cities know @JoeBiden has lost. They’ve stopped counting votes just to deny @realDonaldTrump ability to win tonight, to falsely claim election was close, to weaken him. Like all their other dirty tricks, it won’t work.”
After that tweet, Ravicher claims that he was told by former Dean Anthony Varona that his contract might not be renewed.
The following month, Ravicher wrote an op-ed detailing the effort to fire him for his controversial views. Like his liberal colleagues, Ravicher noted, he engages in political debate outside of the school but his views were treated as unacceptable:
“I, too, keep my thoughts to myself while at the UM campus, but I have a Twitter account and find it an exhilarating Roman Coliseum of ideological debate. Many of my students follow me and we engage in ways we can’t physically. And if spectators want to join in, all the better.
My employer’s Faculty Manual could not be clearer, anything a faculty member says in their personal life shall have no impact on their employment. But promises are not always kept, as I found out after recently tweeting my views on race, abortion, lawful self-defense and integrity in elections.”
His public views on Twitter led to a couple dozen colleagues at the law school to denounce him in a public letter. The professors did not call for Ravicher to be fired but noted “[w]hile Ravicher’s unprofessional behavior may be defended as a matter of academic freedom or free speech, academic and free speech norms do not insulate lawyers from critique.” The basis for their condemnation was stated in the letter:
“On his Twitter account, Ravicher has promoted baseless claims about fraud in the presidential election, suggested a need to use lethal force against protesters after the election, compared calls for political accountability to the Holocaust, groundlessly accused law faculty of retaliating against students for their political views and made several uninformed claims about race, ethnicity and identity in the United States.”
To their credit, the letter was not on the part of the law faculty and did not call for termination. However, Ravicher says that he was effectively forced out by the Administration. He singles out Varona for violating Title VII and the Florida Civil Rights Act. Ravicher says that Varona described “my comment was offensive because I am a white man and if I were black or a woman my comment would not be a problem.”
Varona has faced other controversies, including over his handling of a student who declared her hatred for white people. We discussed that controversy and I supported the student’s right to free speech and agreed that she should not face punishment for the racist comments.
Ravicher also noted “Similarly situated employees like Mary Ann Franks (white, female) and Osamudia James (black, female) were not reprimanded and/or threatened with discharge for engaging in similar behavior.”
Ravicher does not fully explain why he picked out these two professors. Both Franks and James signed the public letter.
The conservative site College Fix noted that James also wrote about the views of “white people” in a column. The implication is that discussing views of racial voting or values is not barred from a more liberal perspective. Franks has also written about how “white people” shared Trump’s racist views: “Trump’s reasoning about race and inequality is only a sensationalized version of how race is too often understood by most white people.”
Ravicher presumably cited these professors to argue that they are all making comments about what they view as the voting patterns and values of white and black voters but his views were opposed by the majority of the faculty and student body.
As will come as little surprise to those who read this blog, my natural default remains with free speech for all of these professors. I have defended faculty who have made similarly disturbing comments denouncing police, calling for Republicans to suffer, blow up Republicans, strangling police officers, celebrating the death of conservatives, calling for the killing of Trump supporters, supporting the murder of conservative protesters and other outrageous statements. These comments were not protested as creating an “unsafe environment” and were largely ignored by universities.
However, conservative or contrarian professors and students are routinely investigated, suspended, and sanctioned for countervailing views. There were also controversies at the University of California and Boston University, where there have been criticism of such a double standard, even in the face of criminal conduct. There was also such an incident at the University of London involving Bahar Mustafa as well as one involving a University of Pennsylvania professor. Some intolerant statements against students are deemed free speech while others are deemed hate speech or the basis for university action. There is a lack of consistency or uniformity in these actions which turn on the specific groups left aggrieved by out-of-school comments. There is also a tolerance of faculty and students tearing down fliers and stopping the speech of conservatives. Indeed, even faculty who assaulted pro-life advocates was supported by faculty and lionized for her activism.
As we have previously discussed (with an Oregon professor and a Rutgers professor), there remains an uncertain line in what language is protected for teachers in their private lives. A conservative North Carolina professor faced calls for termination over controversial tweets and was pushed to retire. Dr. Mike Adams, a professor of sociology and criminology, had long been a lightning rod of controversy. In 2014, we discussed his prevailing in a lawsuit that alleged discrimination due to his conservative views. He was then targeted again after an inflammatory tweet calling North Carolina a “slave state.” That led to his being pressured to resign with a settlement. He then committed suicide
The efforts to fire professors who voice dissenting views on various issues including an effort to oust a leading economist from the University of Chicago as well as a leading linguistics professor at Harvard and a literature professor at Penn. Sites like Lawyers, Guns, and Money feature writers like Colorado Law Professor Paul Campos who call for the firing of those with opposing views (including myself). Such campaigns have targeted teachers and students who contest the evidence of systemic racism in the use of lethal force by police or offer other opposing views in current debates over the pandemic, reparations, electoral fraud, or other issues.