Court dismisses Turkish Coalition lawsuit filed against the University of Minnesota

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MINNEAPOLIS / ST. PAUL (03/30/2011) —U.S. District Court Judge Donovan Frank today dismissed a lawsuit filed by the Turkish Coalition of America against the University of Minnesota. The lawsuit arose from materials posted on the university’s Center for Holocaust and Genocide Studies (CHGS) website, including a list of websites CHGS considered “unreliable” for purposes of conducting scholarly research. The Turkish Coalition claimed the university violated its constitutional rights, and committed defamation, by including the Turkish Coalition website on the “unreliable” websites list.

The federal court found the materials on the CHGS website reflected the opinions of the university and its faculty regarding the reliability of the various websites, including the Turkish Coalition website. As such, the court held that the University website material was protected by the principle of academic freedom, which gives the university and its faculty a broad right to express their views and engage in scholarly commentary and critique. Because the materials were protected by academic freedom, the federal court dismissed the Turkish Coalition’s claims.

University General Counsel Mark Rotenberg stated, “This case has been followed closely by scholars around the world because of its important implications for principles of academic freedom. If scholars faced legal liability each time they engaged in controversial academic critiques, the concept of academic freedom would be greatly diminished. The court’s decision today confirms the right of scholars to engage in academic critiques without fear of legal retribution. The university applauds today’s decision."...

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