SAPR—suppression of dissent?

Naval Academy Professor Sues Navy Over Free Speech


This reports

A civilian professor at the U.S. Naval Academy is suing the Navy, accusing it of violating his First Amendment right to free speech and chilling academic freedom.

Attorneys for Bruce Fleming said Thursday that the professor was denied merit pay and $7,000 in summer funding based on a 2014 reprimand. It stemmed from a 2013 classroom discussion, when Fleming prompted his students to consider the academy’s sexual assault program and the potentially one-sided burdens it put on men, at a time when the academy was part of the national debate over how to stop sexual assault in the military.

Two female students disagreed with Fleming’s comments in class.

Fleming was cleared in an initial investigation. A second investigation by a more senior academy official led to the reprimand. It found the professor’s initiation of conduct cases against the two students amounted to retaliation.

The lawsuit disputes a finding by the academy that characterized the actions of the female midshipmen in complaining to sexual assault prevention officials as seeking guidance. Instead, the lawsuit alleges complaints lodged with the sexual assault prevention office “were made in bad faith and with the specific intent to have the academy censor and punish Professor Fleming for daring to criticize the (Sexual Assault Prevention and Response Program.)”