Judge strikes down political bias suit against RIC

Katie Mulvaney
The Providence Journal

Excerpt: A Superior Court judge has ruled for Rhode Island College in a long-running dispute over a former graduate student’s allegations that the college violated his free-speech rights and retaliated against him based on his conservative political views.

Judge Susan E. McGuirl this week dismissed a lawsuit brought against Rhode Island College by William J. Felkner, finding that the school and its faculty were shielded from liability by qualified immunity -- a legal doctrine that safeguards government officials from being sued for damages for constitutional violations, unless they breached a clearly established law or constitutional right.

McGuirl concluded in the 32-page decision that existing case law clearly establishes that “academic disputes are within the realm of academic freedom and discretion,” and as such the defendants were entitled to qualified immunity based on the facts as presented.