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Supreme Court denies ex-professor’s appeal bid

Was fired after plagiarism, fraud accusations

WASHINGTON — The Supreme Court rejected an appeal Monday from Ward Churchill, a former University of Colorado professor, in his effort to reclaim his job.

The justices did not comment in refusing to review a Colorado Supreme Court ruling in favor of the university.

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Churchill faced condemnation and calls for his dismissal over an essay describing some victims of the Sept. 11, 2001, terrorist attacks as ‘‘little Eichmanns,’’ a reference to Adolf Eichmann, the Nazi leader who helped orchestrate the Holocaust.

The university investigated whether the piece was protected under the First Amendment and found that it was.

But while the investigation was underway, other academics accused Churchill of plagiarism and fraud in scholarly writings, and that led to his termination in 2007.

None of the allegations concerned the Sept. 11 essay.

Upholding a ruling by the Denver District Court, the Colorado Supreme Court said in a decision last September that the lower court was right to direct a verdict in favor of the university and to find that the school was entitled to “quasijudicial immunity.”

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A university spokesman called the Colorado ruling a victory for faculty members who follow the rules.

Churchill’s lawyer, David Lane, said the Supreme Court appeal was launched on grounds that his client’s free speech rights were violated.

He said the Colorado court’s ruling did not address the free-speech question, and effectively put the university regents above federal law by allowing them to make the final decision in the case.

In other action Monday:

 The Supreme Court said it would leave in place mandatory 30-year prison terms for two Atlanta men who tried to provide a machine gun and other assault weapons to people they thought were Mexican drug traffickers.

Mark Anthony Beckford and Randy Vana Haile Jr. appealed the 30-year terms because they said the government should have proved, but did not, that they knew one of the weapons was a machine gun capable of firing automatically.

Beckford and Haile met with undercover federal agents who said they were working with a Mexican drug cartel. A jury found that the defendants agreed to provide the weapons and money in exchange for cocaine and marijuana.

Haile received 39 years and Beckford got 36 in federal prison. The justices turned away their appeals without comment.

 The justices said they will review a federal rule that requires airlines to include taxes in their advertised fares, a practice that carriers say violates their free-speech rights.

Under a Transportation Department rule that was upheld by a federal appeals court, airlines must display the total cost of a ticket in the largest type size and have it be the most prominent price in ads or on their web pages.

Airlines still can break down the price of a ticket to show taxes and fees.

The high court rejected an appeal filed by Spirit Airlines, Allegiant Air, and Southwest Airlines of the ruling by the US Circuit Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia.

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