Where academic freedom and the First Amendment religion clauses
Brad M Pardee
bpardee at unlnotes.unl.edu
Wed Feb 22 13:57:44 PST 2006
There was an interesting column in today campus paper about the hostility
in certain places on our campus (a state university) toward conservative
Christians (and, in fact, conservatives in general, although it's the
hostility based on the student's religion which is germane to this list).
One of the significant points of the column, written by a member of the
English Dept. faculty, says, "I have before me an e-mail from a
conservative Catholic student who had 'consistently been ostracized
throughout [last] semester' in a class in which the professor had
'harassed and belittled' her for her faith, ultimately going on a rant
that reduced the student to tears."
Assume for the sake of discussion that this description of the student's
experience is accurate (and I have no reason to assume it is not). What
would happen if the student were to file a complaint that the professor,
as a representative of a state institution, was violating either the
student's First Amendment right to free exercise or the Establishment
Clause (assuming that a state can neither advocate nor denigrate a
particular religion)? Does the professor have a defense in claiming
academic freedom, or does the First Amendment trump that claim?
The entire story is at
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