A California judge has issued a report that sides against California community college policies that require faculty to embrace diversity, equity and inclusion as part of their job.
Judge Christopher Baker recommended blocking California Community Colleges’ leaders and Kern Community College District trustees from enforcing mandatory diversity, equity and inclusion policies in a report issued this week in response to a lawsuit filed against the district by a professor.
The report has been billed as the possible “first step toward overturning statewide rules on DEI policies at California community colleges,” KGET reported.
Professor Daymon Johnson, a history professor at Bakersfield College, filed the lawsuit earlier this year after enduring a five-month administrative investigation for calling a peer a radical social justice warrior. Johnson alleged his First Amendment rights are being violated by the district, which oversees Bakersfield College.
Judge Baker appears to agree.
In his 44-page report, Baker rejected administrators’ arguments that the DEI regulations are just suggestions. He wrote that claim runs “contrary to the mandatory language of the regulations [that] requires faculty demonstrate (or progress toward) proficiency” in DEI for evaluations and tenure review.
The judge’s report added:
Similarly, § 53605(a) provides that “Faculty members shall employ teaching, learning, and professional practices that reflect DEIA and anti-racist principles, and in particular, respect for, and acknowledgement of the diverse backgrounds of students and colleagues to improve equitable student outcomes and course completion” (emphasis added).
Likewise, § 53605(c) provides that “[s]taff members shall promote and incorporate culturally affirming DEIA and anti-racist principles to nurture and create a respectful, inclusive, and equitable learning and work environment” (emphasis added). [The] characterization of these regulations as merely “articulat[ing] the aspirational goal” of promoting DEIA (Doc. 42 at 16-17) is disingenuous – by their plain language, the regulations require faculty members like Plaintiff to express a particular message.
The Supreme Court “[has] held time and time again that freedom of speech ‘includes both the right to speak freely and the right to refrain from speaking at all.’”
As The College Fix previously reported, Johnson’s lawsuit asked the court to prohibit administrators from further investigating, punishing or firing him.
“Professor Johnson refrains from expressing himself on political matters for fear of being subjected to further investigations and termination,” the complaint states. “The First Amendment, however, guarantees Professor Johnson’s right to express himself, and it forbids the state from mandating that he subscribe to or promote any official ideology.”
The Institute for Free Speech, which represents Johnson, stated in a news release that the judge’s report “found that it is likely that Professor Johnson has standing to pursue such a suit, is harmed by the policies and practices in question, and that an injunction is an appropriate remedy for the state’s unconstitutional suppression and punishment of Professor Johnson.”
“We’re largely pleased with the recommendations, and we appreciate the court’s recognition that California Community Colleges Board of Governors’ mandatory ‘anti-racist’ ideology directly harms our client’s First Amendment rights,” said Alan Gura, lead counsel for Johnson and vice president for litigation at the institute.
Both parties have 14 days to object to portions of the report, and those briefs along with Judge Baker’s recommendation will be submitted to the federal district court judge, who will issue a final decision, the institute stated.
A Kern Community College District spokesperson told KGET in respond to the judge’s report that “our commitment to our students and our community leads to our goals, and we believe this lawsuit is without merit, and as such, KCCD will vigorously defend itself.”
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