It appears that, for the time being, plagiarism can still get you fired, as in the case of former University of Colorado Professor Ward Churchill. The Supreme Court today rejected Ward Churchill’s appeal without comment, leading the University of Colorado to declare today a “victory for CU faculty.”
Churchill first came under fire from the university and many Americans for his essay stating that some victims of 9/11 were “little Eichmanns.” While the university determined his comments were protected under the First Amendment, a 20-member faculty board voted unanimously to fire Churchill for multiple counts of plagiarism, which led to this case before the Supreme Court.
The University of Colorado’s Office of the President posted a statement on its facebook page regarding the case:
Statement on today’s U.S. Supreme Court denial of a Ward Churchill appeal from CU Board of Regents Chair Michael Carrigan: “When Churchill’s comments about 9/11 first surfaced in 2005, the Board of Regents called for Churchill’s free speech rights to be protected, and Chancellor DiStefano correctly determined that no one should punish him for exercising his right to free speech. At the same time, however, it was the Board of Regents’ obligation to uphold the unanimous verdict of more than 20 faculty members who concluded that Churchill’s scholarship was illegitimate and prevent him from teaching on a University of Colorado campus. We take that obligation seriously, and today’s decision is a victory for CU faculty.”
Let Fareed Zakaria take note: while CNN and Time Magazine may not have fired you, there are still some corners of the United States where plagiarism is unacceptable.
See also this excellent background on Churchill and his defenders’ 12 excuses for plagiarism.