McKinney v. Board of Trustees of Mayland Community College
United States Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit
955 F.2d 924 (1992)
Mayland Community College was part of the North Carolina community college system. In 1987, Virginia Foxx, a Republican with ties to the North Carolina governor, was selected as president of Mayland after three Republican trustees lobbied in her favor. At least one Republican trustee commented several times that Republicans planned to terminate all Democrats working at Mayland. Foxx recommended termination of nine administrators and faculty members (plaintiffs), all of whom were Democrats, and the termination of another employee, McKinney (plaintiff), who had written a letter criticizing Foxx’s selection as president. Foxx had confided in at least one of the employees recommended for termination that she was being forced to make decisions that were not her own. The Board of Trustees (defendant) followed Foxx’s recommendations and terminated all 10 employees. After one of the terminated employees later gained support from Republicans in the community, she was rehired. The terminated employees filed a lawsuit against the board, alleging that they had been unlawfully terminated due to their political affiliations and for speech critical of the board in violation of the First Amendment. The board countered that the terminations were due to a budgetary crisis, although there was conflicting evidence to dispute this, and in furtherance of a reorganization plan proposed by Foxx. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the board, and the employees appealed.
Rule of Law
Holding and Reasoning (Ervin, C.J.)
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