UNL faces trial from former lecturer | New
Former lecturer and graduate student who was involved in nationally recognized incident regarding Turning Point USA booth and academic freedom in 2017 sues the University of Nebraska for violating lecturer’s First and Fourteenth Amendment rights .
Courtney Lawton, a former non-tenured English professor and graduate student, filed a lawsuit on August 26, 2021 in the United States District Court for the District of Nebraska against the Board of Regents of the University of Nebraska, Chancellor Ronnie Green, then- President of NU Hank Bounds.
Lawton hired Vincent M. Powers as an attorney and worked with him to file a formal complaint and request a jury trial.
“On August 25, 2017, [Lawton] exercised her right to free speech under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution and the State Constitution of Nebraska by expressing her views while in the “Freedom Zone expression “located at or near the student union”, we read in the lawsuit.
Lawton’s free speech exercise, according to the lawsuit, was protesting with a sign saying, “Just say NO! To Neo-Fascism ”and knocking down an individual at a Turning Point USA booth.
The university is said to have created, and then denied, the creation of free speech zones in an attempt to allow anyone on campus to exercise their right to free speech.
The lawsuit alleges that Bounds tweeted criticism of Lawton on August 28, 2017, although the account has since been privatized.
Hank Bounds, then president of the University of Nebraska, posted a public message on Twitter criticizing the behavior of [Lawton] as “unprofessional” and not up to standards of conduct, “the lawsuit said.
The lawsuit says a spokesperson for the Board of Regents released a public statement on September 6, 2017, claiming that Lawton was not released because of the safety of others on campus, but because of her actions in as a teacher.
“Chancellor Green sent an article to local newspapers that the complainant’s suspension would continue into the second semester and that she would be banned from teaching at the University in the future,” the lawsuit said.
Lawton was terminated from her teaching position on September 5, 2017. She did not teach for the fall or spring semester and did not have an adjudication process to decide if she was fit to teach further. , indicates the trial. After Lawton’s sacking, the American Association of University Teachers added UNL to its censorship list.
The UNL has since attempted to remove itself from the censorship list since 2018, which was cut short by inclusion and potential threats to academic freedom by the regent and gubernatorial candidate Jim Pillen’s resolution against the theory criticism of the breed.
The AAUP suspended the removal process on July 21, but allowed the process to resume on August 19, according to an email to university officials, following the resolution’s failure during the meeting of the Board of Regents on August 13. University officials are hopeful that a vote to remove the UNL from the censorship list will take place at the November meeting, according to the minutes of the August 24 meeting of the Faculty Senate. ONE.
The lawsuit says that because Lawton never had another chance to teach at the university, it put stress on other employment options. However, she was able to continue her higher education.
“Defendant Green’s intentional publication of the above comments regarding the Plaintiff has impaired the Plaintiff’s ability to find future employment,” the lawsuit says.
According to the lawsuit, the university claims to have found the situation threatening for students of conservative political leanings and cited this as a reason for firing Lawton.
Bounds also reportedly wrote to Nebraska Governor Pete Ricketts in November 2017 and gave assurances that Lawton “would not be teaching at the University of Nebraska,” according to the lawsuit.
“This decision to prohibit the complainant from teaching in 2017-2018 and / or to ban her definitively from teaching at the UNL in any capacity whatsoever was taken without notice to the complainant and without a hearing from arbitration, “says the lawsuit.
The university told Lawton it would be a disruption because of all the negative press, according to the lawsuit.
In April 2021, the Board of Regents passed bylaw revisions following negotiations that began in 2018 to secure the academic freedom that had been violated in Lawton’s situation.
Lawton’s attorney declined to comment at this time.
According to Deb Fiddelke, head of communications and marketing at UNL, Lawton was paid in full for the duration of her contract. Fiddelke was unable to comment further on the pending litigation.
Lawton seeks compensation in the lawsuit to cover “mental suffering, inconvenience, humiliation, emotional distress and all other general damages” resulting from the incident.