Judge Says Professor Has Free Speech Rights After Being Cancelled

(FreedomBeacon.com)- A federal judge in Texas ruled recently that public school officials could be held responsible if they fire employees if they exercise their rights to free speech given to them by the U.S. Constitution.

The order was given by Judge Sean Jordan, who serves on the U.S. District Court for Eastern Texas. The case in question revolves around the University of North Texas, which is a publicly-funded institution of higher learning.

The university fired Nathaniel Hiers, who was a math professor at the school, because he made public comments that he disagreed with the concept of “microaggressions,” which is a concept being pushed by liberals.

In his ruling, Jordan said that the university shouldn’t know the professor’s speech “touched on a matter of public concern and that discontinuing his employment because of his speech violated the First Amendment.”

The University of North Texas claimed that all school officials had qualified immunity in this case. Essentially, they were arguing that school officials shouldn’t be able to be held responsible for their actions just because they were acting as state employees.

The judge disagreed with the schools qualified immunity claim. He also denied their demand to dismiss the case outright.

The case revolves around an incident that happened back in 2019. A stack of flyers that pushed “microaggressions” was dropped in a faculty lounge. On a chalkboard that was located above the flyers, Hiers wrote, “Don’t leave garbage lying around.”

The school never approved those flyers to be distributed, but some professors who consider themselves liberal decided to make them available for people to grab if they wanted to.

Just the News reported that Ralph Schmidt, who is the chairman of the school’s math department, called the person who wrote the message a “coward,” and demanded that they come forward.

Hiers ultimately said he wrote the message on the board, but said he did it as a joke, and wouldn’t apologize for his actions. He also said that he wouldn’t renounce the fact that he disagreed with the concept being pushed in the flyer, saying that he refused to be subjected to “supplemental diversity training.”

Just a few days after that happened, the university rescinded its teaching contract with Hiers. In justifying the move, they said the professor could “be perceived as threatening” other people due to his opposition to the theory.

In the case, Hiers argued the discussing “microaggressions” was “a matter of public concern.” As a result, he argued he had a right under the First Amendment to speak openly about the issue, even if his colleagues and others at the university found that to be upsetting.

In making his ruling, Jordan said the professor was speaking about “a hot button issue related to the ongoing struggle over the social control of language in our nation and, particularly in higher education.”

Jordan continued:

“Hiers’s speech reflected his protest of a topic (microaggressions) born from the present-day political correctness movement that has become an issue of contentious cultural debate.”