DENVER (CN) – University of Colorado professor Ward Churchill won’t get his job back, the Colorado Court of Appeals ruled. Churchill was fired after he drew national attention for an essay comparing victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 attacks to Nazi bureaucrat Adolf Eichmann.
Churchill claimed he was fired in retaliation for exercising his right to free speech, but the appeals court upheld a ruling that the University’s Board of Regents had “quasi-judicial” immunity.
“We conclude that the nature of the decision reached by the University and its Regents, and the process by which that decision was reached, shared enough characteristics with the judicial process to warrant absolute immunity from liability,” Judge Dennis Graham wrote.
Churchill, a professor of ethnic studies, made headlines in 2005 for his essay “On the Justice of Roosting Chickens,” in which he called some people who worked in the World Trade Centers “little Eichmanns.” The essay likened Eichmann’s work organizing trains to send Jews to concentration camps to “ongoing genocidal American imperialism.”
Reaction to the essay sparked a university investigation, which found Churchill guilty of academic misconduct, including plagiarism and falsifying data. He was fired in 2007.
Churchill filed several lawsuits claiming free speech retaliation and employment violations.
The Court of Appeals also rejected Churchill’s argument that the investigation of his research constituted an adverse employment action.
“Churchill’s academic freedom did not include the right to commit research misconduct that was specifically proscribed by the University’s policies and enforced through a system of shared governance between the administration and the faculty,” Judge Graham wrote.