Professor’s Suit Against UT Austin: University Wanted Police to Watch Out for Speech that Could Reach Politicians
Finance Professor Dr. Richard Lowery is suing the University of Texas at Austin for allegedly threatening to punish him after he criticized the university’s administration. His lawsuit claims that the university threatened to reduce his pay, remove his affiliation with UT's Salem Center for Public Policy, and even his job. (A hat tip to Eugene Volokh for providing the facts of the case).
According to the lawsuit, Lowery was targeted by the university for criticizing the administration's approaches to critical race theory, affirmative action, academic freedom, competence-based performance measures, and the future of capitalism. Lowery is an outspoken commentator on university affairs, publishing articles in The Hill, the Texas Tribune, the Houston Chronicle, and The College Fix.
But after Lowery recently criticized the university’s Diversity, Equity, and Inclusion (DEI) policies, the professor claims the administration "responded with a campaign to silence" him. In the lawsuit, Lowery asserts that a senior UT official attempted to pressure Carlos Carvalho, the Executive Director of the Salem Center, to reprimand him. At first, Carvalho resisted, believing that the First Amendment protected Lowery from punishment. When Carvalho refused, Professor Lillian Mills, Dean of the McCombs School of Business at the university, reportedly threatened to remove Carvalho, saying “I don't need to remind you that you serve at my pleasure.”
The lawsuit also details another incident, where one UT employee requested that the police surveil Lowery’s speech. As the lawsuit states, the university “allowed, or at least did not retract, a UT employee's request that police surveil Lowery's speech, because he might contact politicians or other influential people.”
Why not call out the National Guard?
Lowery has garnered a large public following for his outspoken views on campus affairs, and as one employee wrote, "We are more worried about the people he reaches than him. Some of his supporters are authors, podcasters, and politicians.”
Imagine that! Speech that reaches podcasters and politicians. Is this what constitutes an on-campus conspiracy these days?
The lawsuit contends that the university violated Lowery’s academic freedom by depriving him of his right to critique ideas, policies, hiring, and participate in the academic life of the university. Protect The 1st looks forward to further developments in this case.