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U.C. Davis Law Review

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In this Article I shall argue that the deliberations and votes of university and college tenure committees should not be kept confidential under the guise of academic freedom. Indeed, claims that tenure deliberations and votes are confidential because of "academic freedom" are entirely inconsistent with the purposes for which academic freedom has been recognized. Part I summarizes the legal literature and judicial developments defining academic freedom and its scope and purpose. This summary includes a survey of scholarly commentary on the subject, the development of the influential position of the American Association of University Professors, and a brief review of the constitutional development of the concept of academic freedom, gleaned from decisions of the United States Supreme Court and state and federal courts. Part II examines in detail the novel academic freedom claims asserted in Dinnan and Gray. Part III then considers the desirability of restricting the Gray court's application of academic freedom. The section begins by exploring the traditional policy of judicial noninterference in academic disputes and the modification of that policy in recent years. It then discusses whether such noninterference is appropriate in cases involving the academic freedom claims of university tenure committees, especially in light of the link between judicial deference and university discriminatory practices. Finally, the section argues that despite Gray's failure to specify whether academic freedom protects individual tenure committee members or the entire university, extending this protection to either party exceeds the scope of academic freedom.