Tuesday, December 06, 2005

Can the Suspended Dental School Blogger Take His Case to Court?

And otherwise very good story in the Marquette Tribune about the Dental School blogger who was suspended for posts on his blog apparently contained one error.

The Tribune story stated:
Taylor said if his client were to file a motion in court, it would be on constitutional grounds concerning First Amendment rights.
According to Taylor, he told the Tribune that any challenge would be on grounds other than the First Amendment.

We have heard from a lawyer who has several years of experience working on breach-of-contract cases (though not in this exact context). This source suggests:
I’m not sure [the student] wouldn’t have a breach of contract claim against the school. Basically, any student’s relationship with his school is like any contract that can be terminated only upon just cause. The student’s agreed-upon arrangement with Marquette is that he paid tuition and, in exchange, the school agreed to let him study here, reserving only a right to terminate (i.e., suspend or expel) his studies for just cause, as defined by various regulations. If Marquette kicked him out when he hadn’t really violated any regulation, it would seem to be in breach of that agreed-upon (contractual) relationship.
We are, in fact, quite happy that Marquette as a private institution can set its own rules without being second guessed by judges at every turn. But the fact that Marquette has a right to restrict speech doesn’t mean it’s a good idea.

And when it restricts speech, the University has an obligation (arguably an enforceable legal obligation), to obey its own published rules.

Where those rules are vague, the presumption must favor free speech.

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