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Who's Afraid of Academic Freedom?$
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Akeel Bilgrami and Jonathan Cole

Print publication date: 2015

Print ISBN-13: 9780231168809

Published to Columbia Scholarship Online: November 2015

DOI: 10.7312/columbia/9780231168809.001.0001

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Academic Freedom and the Constitution

Academic Freedom and the Constitution

(p.123) 8 Academic Freedom and the Constitution
Who's Afraid of Academic Freedom?

Robert Post

Columbia University Press

This chapter examines academic freedom as a concept of constitutional law. The Supreme Court has proclaimed that academic freedom is a “special concern of the First Amendment, which does not tolerate laws that cast a pall of orthodoxy over the classroom.” However, the doctrine of academic freedom is characterized by disarray and incoherence. It is incoherent because courts lack an adequate theory of why the U.S. Constitution should protect academic freedom. This chapter argues that the theory of constitutional protection for academic freedom is fundamentally unsound, that it protects not professors as individuals or universities as institutions, but the disciplinary norms which define the scholarly profession and which universities exist to nourish and reproduce. It explains how academic freedom differs from intellectual freedom and how we might justify a constitutional law of academic freedom. In particular, it proposes a more defensible account of why the Constitution might protect academic freedom.

Keywords:   academic freedom, constitutional law, First Amendment, U.S. Constitution, constitutional protection, professors, universities, intellectual freedom

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