PHILADELPHIA — After hearing a day and a half of testimony before a jury, a federal judge on Thursday nonetheless granted Temple University’s motion to dismiss the retaliation claim of a student represented by attorneys with the ADF Center for Academic Freedom. The testimony included a senior Temple professor’s justification of his abusive treatment of student Christian DeJohn in part because DeJohn was concerned with liberal bias on campus.
The ruling, which occurred before closing arguments and before the jury could deliberate, did not affect an earlier court ruling that permanently enjoined Temple’s unconstitutional speech code.
“Conservative speech is not second-class speech and conservative and Christian students should enjoy legal equality with other students. While we are disappointed by the court’s ruling today, it does not change the fact that every Temple student enjoys greater free speech rights as a result of Christian DeJohn’s stand,” said David French, ADF Senior Counsel and Director of the ADF Center for Academic Freedom.
In February 2006, ADF attorneys filed suit on behalf of DeJohn, a graduate student at Temple and a sergeant in the Pennsylvania Army National Guard. DeJohn’s attempts to earn a master’s degree were repeatedly impaired by Temple University officials after he chose to express his political views on war in class and while he was deployed overseas. In March, the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Pennsylvania issued a permanent injunction to prevent Temple University from enforcing its speech code.
At that time, the court also rejected the university’s attempt to dismiss DeJohn’s claim that school officials retaliated against him by impairing his ability to complete his master’s thesis and earn his graduate degree. In September, a federal judge rejected a bid by the university to dismiss the case. Additional information on the case is available here.
“Last month’s ruling ensures that Temple officials are permanently barred from re-instituting an unlawful speech code,” French said. “Thankfully, that decision will continue to stand and will allow conservative and Christian students to express their political viewpoints without fear of academic punishment or retribution from school officials.”
The ADF Center for Academic Freedom is defending religious freedom at America’s public universities. ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.