UT Austin Professor Sues University for Infringing on His First Amendment Rights

Richard Lowery, a finance professor at the University of Texas at Austin McCombs School of Business, is suing the university’s officials for infringing on his First Amendment rights. 

According to Soli Rice of Texas Scorecard, “In attempts to silence the professor for speaking out on controversial issues, university administration threatened his job, pay, institute affiliation, research opportunities, and academic freedom.”

In the legal complaint that Lowery filed, the finance professor said, “The officials at the state’s flagship university violated his constitutional right to criticize government officials.”

In the lawsuit, Lowery asserted that the university administration “harmed his right to academic freedom.”

Lowery’s suit details that the First Amendment “protects the right of public university professors to engage their colleagues and administrators in debate and discussion concerning academic matters, including what should be taught and the school’s ideological direction and balance.”

Per the Institute for Free Speech, Lowery is “well known” for his “vigorous commentary on university affairs.” His pieces have been published in The Hill, The Texas Tribune, the Houston Chronicle, and The College Fix.

Lowery has built a reputation for using social media and online opinion articles to “publicly criticize university officials’ actions, and ask elected state-government officials to intervene. He has also used such tools to participate in the sort of academic campus discourse that faculty traditionally pursue.”

In his articles putting UT officials on blast, Lowery specifically criticizes them for the way they handle issues such as “critical race theory indoctrination, affirmative action, academic freedom, competence-based performance measures, and the future of capitalism.”

Lowery has repeatedly claimed that university administrators are using diversity, equity, and inclusion (DEI) requirements to harass “competent” teachers and professors who are not down with the dominant DEI ideology on campus.

In response, Lowery asserts university administrators “responded with a campaign to silence” him, where they threatened his employment, compensation, institute affiliation, research opportunities, academic freedom, and deemed his behavior to be inviting violence or uncivil in nature.

On top of that, the suit claims school officials “also 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.”

“Lowery got the message,” the suit stated.

As a response to the university’s attempt to muzzle his speech, the professor is aiming to “vindicate” his free speech rights, calling on the court to declare the administration’s actions as unconstitutional and restore his First Amendment rights to speak on issues he was previously silenced on.

Lowery is receiving legal representation from America First Legal and was filed in the Austin federal court.  

Hopefully, Lowery gets his free speech rights restored. Nevertheless, Texas lawmakers must act now and start laying the smackdown on universities that engage in such unconstitutional behavior. They can do so by defunding these institutions, firing staff and professors that act in an anti-freedom manner, and start packing these institutions with right-wing loyalists. The time for debate is over. Legislators must start putting the squeeze on institutions who behave in an anti-American manner.

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