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Perry v. Sindermann

United States Supreme Court
408 U.S. 593 (1972)



Robert Sindermann (plaintiff) was a teacher in the state college system in Texas for 10 years. For the last four years of that time, Sindermann worked for Odessa Junior College (Odessa) as a professor of government and social science. Sinderman was employed under a series of one-year contracts and was appointed the co-chairman of the department. Odessa’s official faculty guide stated that Odessa did not have a tenure system, but Odessa wanted all the faculty to feel that they had a permanent tenure. During the 1968–1969 school year, Sindermann was elected president of the Texas Junior College Teachers Association. Sindermann then aligned himself with a group that advocated converting Odessa to a four-year university. Odessa’s Board (board) opposed converting to a four-year university. At the end of the school year, Sindermann’s contract was terminated and not renewed. The board did not provide an official statement of the reasons for the nonrenewal. The board did issue a press release, alleging that Sindermann was insubordinate. Odessa did not give Sindermann a chance to contest the nonrenewal. Sindermann then sued the president of Odessa and members of the board (defendants), alleging a violation of the First Amendment right to free speech and the Fourteenth Amendment guarantee of procedural due process. The district court granted summary judgment in favor of the defendants. Sindermann appealed, and the court of appeals reversed. The United States Supreme Court granted the defendants’ petition for certiorari.

Rule of Law


Holding and Reasoning (Stewart, J.)

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