Perry v. Sindermann

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Plaintiff

Sindermann

Defendant

Perry

Facts

Plaintiff taught in the state college system of University of Texas from 1959-1969. For the last four years he taught at Odessa Junior College. During his time at Odessa, plaintiff had public disagreements with the policies of the college's Board of Regents and this disagreement became publicly known. In May of 1969 plaintiff's contract was not renewed. Plaintiff was not given official reasons to why he was not brought back on, but a press release by Odessa said that he was not brought back of insubordination.

Procedural History

Plaintiff brought this suit in Federal District Court saying that he was not rehired because of his criticism of the Board and that he was not given a hearing to contest the decision not to rehire him. The District Court granted summary judgment for the defendant. The court of appeals held that if the non-renewal of the contract was based on the criticism of the Board, then the non-renewal would violate the 14th amendment. The court of appeals also held that the lack of a hearing was a due process violation if in fact the plaintiff has an expectancy of re-employment. Since both of these matters are factual, the appeals court remanded the case back to the district court. The Supreme Court then granted the writ of certiorari.

Discussion

First the court claims that any government benefit can be protected by a constitutionally protected interest. For this reason, there has to be a factual determination of the reason that the re-employment did not happen.

For the due process claim, the court will have to find either a property right of a liberty right. From Roth we know that a mere showing that a person cannot be rehired is not enough to show that liberty of property have been denied. However, in this case, the school in question does not have a tenure system. Instead they have a de-facto tenure system in which says that a professor has some sort of tenure if they have been teaching for more than 7 years. This type of implied tenure is enough to bestow a property right that can be protected by the 14th amendment.