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Teresa Buchanan v. F. King Alexander, Damon Andrew, A.G. Monaco, and Gaston Reinoso


For more than half a century, this Court has repeatedly discussed the importance of academic freedom to our nation as a whole, and specifically within the framework of First Amendment jurisprudence. The Court has highlighted the importance of providing professors the pedagogic freedom to educate students at our nation’s colleges and universities. Nevertheless, there have been regular attempts on college campuses, both public and private, to filter speech some listeners would prefer not to hear. The phenomenon is not exclusive to any particular viewpoint, and should be viewed as a concern by all perspectives.

Dr. Teresa Buchanan was a tenured Professor of Education at Louisiana State University, a public institution of higher education. She was fired because of a handful of words and phrases she used that some found to be offensive. The speech for which she was dismissed was designed to expose future educators to coarse language and paradigms some may not regularly interact with.

Amici respectfully request that this Court grant Professor Buchanan’s writ of certiorari and explicitly state that academic free speech “implicates additional constitutional interests that are not fully accounted for by this Court’s customary employee-speech jurisprudence.” Garcetti v. Ceballos, 547 U.S. 410, 425 (2006). In doing so, it should clarify that when professors at state universities are sanctioned for academic speech, reviewing courts must scrutinize the constitutional validity of the applicable regulations, which must satisfy First Amendment standards governing vagueness and over breadth.

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