You remember Ward Churchill — he’s the former University of Colorado ethnic studies professor who claimed that the United States deserved the September 11, 2001 attacks because of “ongoing genocidal American imperialism.”
Well, he’s been fighting a losing battle to get his job back ever since he was eventually fired for (unrelated) plagiarism and fabricated research.
On Monday, the United States Supreme Court rejected Churchill’s appeal without comment.
Officials at the University of Colorado and David Lane, Churchill’s attorney, both told the Daily Camera that the Supreme Court’s decision effectively exhausts Churchill’s legal options.
In a joint statement, CU President Bruce Benson and Boulder campus Chancellor Phil DiStefano said that the Supreme Court upheld a “unanimous line of rulings from the Colorado courts.”
“This decision is a victory for the thousands of men and women on our faculty who live up to that obligation and for the students who benefit from their professionalism,” the administrators wrote.
Lane was substantially less effusive.
“It’s disappointing from the perspective that the First Amendment has suffered as a result of this,” the attorney told the Daily Camera. “I am sorry that the regents have been given the green light to violate the Constitution any time they feel a need.”
Intriguingly, Lane also mentioned that the former ethnic studies professor has found work lecturing in Atlanta, but provided no further details.
Churchill faced national criticism after an obscure 2001 essay called “On the Justice of Roosting Chickens” found its way into the national mainstream. In the inflammatory essay, Churchill described the people who worked in the World Trade Center as a “technocratic corps” of “little Eichmanns.” (The reference is to Adolf Eichmann, a Nazi who played a big role in organizing the Holocaust.)
Administrators at CU-Boulder, where Churchill taught, concluded that Churchill’s essay was protected under the First Amendment, and so the school would have to keep the tenured professor employed.
However, it was all downhill from there for Churchill’s career. In 2007, CU found a reason to fire him: allegations of academic fraud and plagiarism in other writings unrelated to the provocative “little Eichmanns” essay.
Churchill won a free-speech lawsuit against CU-Boulder in 2009, as the Daily Camera notes. It wasn’t much of a win, though. The jury awarded him a single, solitary dollar in damages and the judge refused to reinstate him as a professor.
Colorado’s state supreme court denied Churchill’s appeal in September 2012.