Perry v. Sindermann
408 U.S. 593 (1972)

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U.S. Supreme Court

Perry v. Sindermann, 408 U.S. 593 (1972)

Perry v. Sindermann

No. 70-36

Argued January 18, 1972

Decided June 29, 1972

408 U.S. 593

Syllabus

Respondent was employed in a state college system for 10 years, the last four as a junior college professor under a series of one-year written contracts. The Regents declined to renew his employment for the next year without giving him an explanation or prior hearing. Respondent then brought this action in the District Court, alleging that the decision not to rehire him was based on respondent's public criticism of the college administration, and thus infringed his free speech right, and that the Regents' failure to afford him a hearing violated his procedural due process right. The District Court granted summary judgment for petitioners, concluding that respondent's contract had terminated and the junior college had not adopted the tenure system. The Court of Appeals reversed on the grounds that, despite lack of tenure, nonrenewal of respondent's contract would violate the Fourteenth Amendment if it was in fact, based on his protected free speech, and that, if respondent could show that he had an "expectancy" of reemployment, the failure to allow him an opportunity for a hearing would violate the procedural due process guarantee.

Held:

1. Lack of a contractual or tenure right to reemployment, taken alone, did not defeat respondent's claim that the nonrenewal of his contract violated his free speech right under the First and Fourteenth Amendments. The District Court therefore erred in foreclosing determination of the contested issue whether the decision not to renew was based on respondent's exercise of his right of free speech. Pp. 408 U. S. 596-598.

2. Though a subjective "expectancy" of tenure is not protected by procedural due process, respondent's allegation that the college had a de facto tenure policy, arising from rules and understandings officially promulgated and fostered, entitled him to an opportunity of proving the legitimacy of his claim to job tenure. Such proof would obligate the college to afford him a requested hearing where he could be informed of the grounds for his nonretention and challenge their sufficiency. Pp. 408 U. S. 599-603.

430 F.2d 939, affirmed.

Page 408 U. S. 594

STEWART, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C.J., and WHITE, BLACKMUN, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. BURGER, C.J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 408 U. S. 603. BRENNAN, J., filed an opinion dissenting in part, in which DOUGLAS, J., joined, post, p. 408 U. S. 604. MARSHALL, J., filed an opinion dissenting in part, post, p. 408 U. S. 605. POWELL, J., took no part in the decision of the case.

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