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Board of Regents v. Roth

    Brief Fact Summary. The Respondent, Roth (Respondent), was a new college professor. He was hired on a yearly contract that was not renewed. The university provided no explanation for the choice to not renew the contract.

    Synopsis of Rule of Law. Procedural protection of property rights inure only after one has acquired benefits. There must be a legitimate entitlement to the benefit.

    Facts. The Petitioner, the Board of Regents (Petitioner), had a rule that allowed college professors to acquire tenure after four years of continued employment at a university. However, the first years of employment are left to the discretion of the institutions. They could hire and fire every year as they chose. The Respondent taught at Wisconsin State University for the 1968-1969 academic year. During that year he was told that his contract was not going to be renewed for the following year. As a result he brought suit claiming this termination policy violated his Due Process rights.

    Issue. Did the decision to not rehire the Respondent violate his Due Process rights?

    Held. No. By declining to rehire the Respondent, the university did not infringe upon any of the liberties or freedoms that he has.

    Dissent. The university owed the Respondent an explanation for not rehiring him because everyone who applies or works for the government is entitled to this information.

    Discussion. The Respondent did not have property rights in the job because he had a one-year contract that specifically stated he would no longer be employed at the end of the year. No property rights exist in one’s expectations. So, it was unreasonable for the Respondent to expect to gain tenure. On the other hand, the university caused no damage to his reputation, nor did it prevent him from finding another job. Therefore, his rights were not violated.


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