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Appeals Court Rules for Professor’s Speech Rights | Inside Higher Ed


The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit has ruled that a law professor was within his rights to criticize a medical professor at the university, The Des Moines Register reported.

“Our case law is clear that a state employee, merely by publicly identifying himself as such, does not act under color of state law,” Judge Raymond Gruender wrote. “Even assuming that a public-university professor acts in his official capacity or within the scope of his employment when he comments on public affairs, it would not necessarily follow that he acts under color of state law.”

“At the end of the day, we do not doubt that the public might regard a law professor’s views on expert testimony as particularly authoritative,” Gruender wrote. “Nonetheless, that [the law professor] happens to work for a public university rather than a private one does not, by itself, mean that his conduct was under color of state law.”

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