Opinion of the Court

408 U.S.



brief affidavits filed by the respondent, the District Court granted summary judgment for the petitioners, It concluded that the respondent had “no cause of action against the [petitioners] since his contract of employment terminated May 31, 1969, and Odessa Junior College has not adopted the tenure system."

The Court of Appeals reversed the judgment of the District Court. 430 F. 2d 939. First, it held that, despite the respondent's lack of tenure, the nonrenewal of his contract would violate the Fourteenth Amendment if it in fact was based on his protected free speech. Since the actual reason for the Regents' decision was "in total dispute” in the pleadings, the court remanded the case for a full hearing on this contested issue of fact. Id., at 942–943. Second, the Court of Appeals held that, despite the respondent's lack of tenure, the failure to allow him an opportunity for a hearing would violate the constitutional guarantee of procedural due process if the respondent could show that he had an "expectancy” of re-employment. It, therefore, ordered that this issue of fact also be aired upon remand. Id., at 943–944. We granted a writ of certiorari, 403 U. S. 917, and we have considered this case along with Board of Regents v. Roth, ante, p. 564.

I The first question presented is whether the respondent's lack of a contractual or tenure right to re-employment, taken alone, defeats his claim that the nonrenewal of his contract violated the First and Fourteenth Amendments. We hold that it does not.

3 The petitioners, for whom summary judgment was granted, submitted no affidavits whatever. The respondent's affidavits were very short and essentially repeated the general allegations of his complaint.

4 The findings and conclusions of the District Court-only several lines long—are not officially reported.

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For at least a quarter-century, this Court has made clear that even though a person has no “right” to a valuable governmental benefit and even though the government may deny him the benefit for any number of reasons, there are some reasons upon which the government may not rely. It may not deny a benefit to a person on a basis that infringes his constitutionally protected interests especially, his interest in freedom of speech. For if the government could deny a benefit to a person because of his constitutionally protected speech or associations, his exercise of those freedoms would in effect be penalized and inhibited. This would allow the government to "produce a result which [it] could not command directly." Speiser v. Randall, 357 U. S. 513, 526. Such interference with constitutional rights is impermissible.

We have applied this general principle to denials of tax exemptions, Speiser v. Randall, supra, unemployment benefits, Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U. S. 398, 404–405, and welfare payments, Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U. S. 618, 627 n. 6; Graham v. Richardson, 403 U. S. 365, 374. But, most often, we have applied the principle to denials of public employment. United Public Workers v. Mitchell, 330 U. S. 75, 100; Wieman v. Updegrafj, 344 U. S. 183, 192; Shelton v. Tucker, 364 U. S. 479, 485–486; Torcaso v. Watkins, 367 U. S. 488, 495–496; Cafeteria Workers v. McElroy, 367 U. S. 886, 894; Cramp v. Board of Public Instruction, 368 U. S. 278, 288; Baggett v. Bullitt, 377 U. S. 360; Elfbrandt v. Russell, 384 U. S. 11, 17; Keyishian v. Board of Regents, 385 U. S. 589, 605– 606; Whitehill v. Elkins, 389 U. S. 54; United States v. Robel, 389 U. S. 258; Pickering v. Board of Education, 391 U. S. 563, 568. We have applied the principle regardless of the public employee's contractual or other claim to a job. Compare Pickering v. Board of Education, supra, with Shelton v. Tucker, supra.

Thus, the respondent's lack of a contractual or tenure

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"right” to re-employment for the 1969–1970 academic year is immaterial to his free speech claim. Indeed, twice before, this Court has specifically held that the nonrenewal of a nontenured public school teacher's one-year contract may not be predicated on his exercise of First and Fourteenth Amendment rights. Shelton v. Tucker, supra; Keyishian v. Board of Regents, supra. We reaffirm those holdings here.

In this case, of course, the respondent has yet to show that the decision not to renew his contract was, in fact, made in retaliation for his exercise of the constitutional right of free speech. The District Court foreclosed any opportunity to make this showing when it granted summary judgment. Hence, we cannot now hold that the Board of Regents' action was invalid.

But we agree with the Court of Appeals that there is a genuine dispute as to "whether the college refused to renew the teaching contract on an impermissible basis—as a reprisal for the exercise of constitutionally protected rights.” 430 F. 2d, at 943. The respondent has alleged that his nonretention was based on his testimony before legislative committees and his other public statements critical of the Regents' policies. And he has alleged that this public criticism was within the First and Fourteenth Amendments' protection of freedom of speech. Plainly, these allegations present a bona fide constitutional claim. For this Court has held that a teacher's public criticism of his superiors on matters of public concern may be constitutionally protected and may, therefore, be an impermissible basis for termination of his employment. Pickering v. Board of Education, supra.

For this reason we hold that the grant of summary judgment against the respondent, without full exploration of this issue, was improper.

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II The respondent's lack of formal contractual or tenure security in continued employment at Odessa Junior College, though irrelevant to his free speech claim, is highly relevant to his procedural due process claim. But it may not be entirely dispositive.

We have held today in Board of Regents v. Roth, ante, p. 564, that the Constitution does not require opportunity for a hearing before the nonrenewal of a nontenured teacher's contract, unless he can show that the decision not to rehire him somehow deprived him of an interest in "liberty” or that he had a "property” interest in continued employment, despite the lack of tenure or a formal contract. In Roth the teacher had not made a showing on either point to justify summary judgment in his favor.

Similarly, the respondent here has yet to show that he has been deprived of an interest that could invoke procedural due process protection. As in Roth, the mere showing that he was not rehired in one particular job, without more, did not amount to a showing of a loss of liberty. Nor did it amount to a showing of a loss of property.

But the respondent's allegations—which we must construe most favorably to the respondent at this stage of the litigation—do raise a genuine issue as to his interest in continued employment at Odessa Junior College. He alleged that this interest, though not secured by a formal contractual tenure provision, was secured by a no less binding understanding fostered by the college administra


5 The Court of Appeals suggested that the respondent might have a due process right to some kind of hearing simply if he asserts to college officials that their decision was based on his constitutionally protected conduct. 430 F. 2d, at 944. We have rejected this approach in Board of Regents v. Roth, ante, at 575 n. 14.

Opinion of the Court

408 U.S.

tion. In particular, the respondent alleged that the college had a de facto tenure program, and that he had tenure under that program. He claimed that he and others legitimately relied upon an unusual provision that had been in the college's official Faculty Guide for many years:

Teacher Tenure: Odessa College has no tenure system. The Administration of the College wishes the faculty member to feel that he has permanent tenure as long as his teaching services are satisfactory and as long as he displays a cooperative attitude toward his co-workers and his superiors,

and as long as he is happy in his work." Moreover, the respondent claimed legitimate reliance upon guidelines promulgated by the Coordinating Board of the Texas College and University System that provided that a person, like himself, who had been employed as a teacher in the state college and university system for seven years or more has some form of job tenure.

6 The relevant portion of the guidelines, adopted as “Policy Paper 1” by the Coordinating Board on October 16, 1967, reads: “A. Tenure

“Tenure means assurance to an experienced faculty member that he may expect to continue in his academic position unless adequate cause for dismissal is demonstrated in a fair hearing, following established procedures of due process.

“A specific system of faculty tenure undergirds the integrity of each academic institution. In the Texas public colleges and universities, this tenure system should have these components:

"(1) Beginning with appointment to the rank of full-time instructor or a higher rank, the probationary period for a faculty member shall not exceed seven years, including within this period appropriate full-time service in all institutions of higher education. This is subject to the provision that when, after a term of probationary service of more than three years in one or more institutions, a faculty member is employed by another institution, it may be agreed in writing that his new appointment is for a probationary period

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