Respondent, hired for a fixed term of one academic year to teach at a state university, was informed without explanation that he would not be rehired for the ensuing year. A statute provided that all state university teachers would be employed initially on probation and that only after four years' continuous service would teachers achieve permanent employment "during efficiency and good behavior," with procedural protection against separation. University rules gave a nontenured teacher "dismissed" before the end of the year some opportunity for review of the "dismissal," but provided that no reason need be given for nonretention of a nontenured teacher, and no standards were specified for reemployment. Respondent brought this action claiming deprivation of his Fourteenth Amendment rights, alleging infringement of (1) his free speech right because the true reason for his nonretention was his criticism of the university administration, and (2) his procedural due process right because of the university's failure to advise him of the reason for its decision. The District Court granted summary judgment for the respondent on the procedural issue. The Court of Appeals affirmed. Held: The Fourteenth Amendment does not require opportunity for a hearing prior to the nonrenewal of a nontenured state teacher's contract, unless he can show that the nonrenewal 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. Here the nonretention of respondent, absent any charges against him or stigma or disability foreclosing other employment, is not tantamount to a deprivation of "liberty," and the terms of respondent's employment accorded him no "property" interest protected by procedural due process. The courts below therefore erred in granting summary judgment for the respondent on the procedural due process issue. Pp. 569-579.
446 F.2d 806, reversed and remanded. [408 U.S. 564, 565]
STEWART, J., delivered the opinion of the Court, in which BURGER, C. J., and WHITE, BLACKMUN, and REHNQUIST, JJ., joined. BURGER, C. J., filed a concurring opinion, post, p. 603. DOUGLAS, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 579. BRENNAN, J., filed a dissenting opinion, in which DOUGLAS, J., joined, post, p. 604. MARSHALL, J., filed a dissenting opinion, post, p. 587. POWELL, J., took no part in the decision of the case.
Charles A. Bleck, Assistant Attorney General of Wisconsin, argued the cause for petitioners. With him on the brief were Robert W. Warren, Attorney General, and Robert D. Martinson, Assistant Attorney General.
Steven H. Steinglass argued the cause for respondent. With him on the brief were Robert L. Reynolds, Jr., Richard Perry, and Richard M. Klein.
Briefs of amici curiae urging reversal were filed by Robert H. Quinn, Attorney General, Walter H. Mayo III, Assistant Attorney General, and Morris M. Goldings for the Commonwealth of Massachusetts; by Evelle J. Younger, Attorney General of California, Elizabeth Palmer, Acting Assistant Attorney General, and Donald B. Day, Deputy Attorney General, for the Board of Trustees of the California State Colleges; by J. Lee Rankin and Stanley Buchsbaum for the City of New York; and by Albert E. Jenner, Jr., Chester T. Kamin, and Richard T. Dunn for the American Council on Education et al.
Briefs of amici curiae urging affirmance were filed by David Rubin, Michael H. Gottesman, George H. Cohen, and Warren Burnett for the National Education Association et al.; by Herman I. Orentlicher and William W. Van Alstyne for the American Association of University Professors; by John Ligtenberg and Andrew J. Leahy for the American Federation of Teachers; and by Richard L. Cates for the Wisconsin Education Association. [408 U.S. 564, 566]
MR. JUSTICE STEWART delivered the opinion of the Court.
In 1968 the respondent, David Roth, was hired for his first teaching job as assistant professor of political science at Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh. He was hired for a fixed term of one academic year. The notice of his faculty appointment specified that his employment would begin on September 1, 1968, and would end on June 30, 1969. 1 The respondent completed that term. But he was informed that he would not be rehired for the next academic year.
The respondent had no tenure rights to continued employment. Under Wisconsin statutory law a state university teacher can acquire tenure as a "permanent" employee only after four years of year-to-year employment. Having acquired tenure, a teacher is entitled to continued employment "during efficiency and good behavior." A relatively new teacher without tenure, however, is under Wisconsin law entitled to nothing beyond his one-year appointment. 2 There are no statutory [408 U.S. 564, 567] or administrative standards defining eligibility for re-employment. State law thus clearly leaves the decision whether to rehire a nontenured teacher for another year to the unfettered discretion of university officials.
The procedural protection afforded a Wisconsin State University teacher before he is separated from the University corresponds to his job security. As a matter of statutory law, a tenured teacher cannot be "discharged except for cause upon written charges" and pursuant to certain procedures. 3 A nontenured teacher, similarly, is protected to some extent during his one-year term. Rules promulgated by the Board of Regents provide that a nontenured teacher "dismissed" before the end of the year may have some opportunity for review of the "dismissal." But the Rules provide no real protection for a nontenured teacher who simply is not re-employed for the next year. He must be informed by February 1 "concerning retention or non-retention for the ensuing year." But "no reason for non-retention need be given. No review or appeal is provided in such case." 4 [408 U.S. 564, 568]
In conformance with these Rules, the President of Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh informed the respondent before February 1, 1969, that he would not be rehired for the 1969-1970 academic year. He gave the respondent no reason for the decision and no opportunity to challenge it at any sort of hearing.
The respondent then brought this action in Federal District Court alleging that the decision not to rehire him for the next year infringed his Fourteenth Amendment rights. He attacked the decision both in substance and procedure. First, he alleged that the true reason for the decision was to punish him for certain statements critical of the University administration, and that it therefore violated his right to freedom of speech. 5 [408 U.S. 564, 569] Second, he alleged that the failure of University officials to give him notice of any reason for nonretention and an opportunity for a hearing violated his right to procedural due process of law.
The District Court granted summary judgment for the respondent on the procedural issue, ordering the University officials to provide him with reasons and a hearing. 310 F. Supp. 972. The Court of Appeals, with one judge dissenting, affirmed this partial summary judgment. 446 F.2d 806. We granted certiorari. 404 U.S. 909 . The only question presented to us at this stage in the case is whether the respondent had a constitutional right to a statement of reasons and a hearing on the University's decision not to rehire him for another year. 6 We hold that he did not.
The requirements of procedural due process apply only to the deprivation of interests encompassed by the Fourteenth Amendment's protection of liberty and property. When protected interests are implicated, the right [408 U.S. 564, 570] to some kind of prior hearing is paramount. 7 But the range of interests protected by procedural due process is not infinite.
The District Court decided that procedural due process guarantees apply in this case by assessing and balancing the weights of the particular interests involved. It concluded that the respondent's interest in re-employment at Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh outweighed the University's interest in denying him re-employment summarily. 310 F. Supp., at 977-979. Undeniably, the respondent's re-employment prospects were of major concern to him - concern that we surely cannot say was insignificant. And a weighing process has long been a part of any determination of the form of hearing required in particular situations by procedural due process. 8 But, to determine whether [408 U.S. 564, 571] due process requirements apply in the first place, we must look not to the "weight" but to the nature of the interest at stake. See Morrissey v. Brewer, ante, at 481. We must look to see if the interest is within the Fourteenth Amendment's protection of liberty and property.
The State, in declining to rehire the respondent, did not make any charge against him that might seriously damage his standing and associations in his community. It did not base the nonrenewal of his contract on a charge, for example, that he had been guilty of dishonesty, or immorality. Had it done so, this would be a different case. For "[w]here a person's good name, reputation, honor, or integrity is at stake because of what the government is doing to him, notice and an opportunity to be heard are essential." Wisconsin v. Constantineau, 400 U.S. 433, 437 . Wieman v. Updegraff, 344 U.S. 183, 191 ; Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee v. McGrath, 341 U.S. 123 ; United States v. Lovett, 328 U.S. 303, 316 -317; Peters v. Hobby, 349 U.S. 331, 352 (DOUGLAS, J., concurring). See Cafeteria Workers v. McElroy, 367 U.S. 886, 898 . In such a case, due process would accord an opportunity to refute the charge before University officials. 12 In the present case, however, there is no suggestion whatever that the respondent's "good name, reputation, honor, or integrity" is at stake.
Similarly, there is no suggestion that the State, in declining to re-employ the respondent, imposed on him a stigma or other disability that foreclosed his freedom to take advantage of other employment opportunities. The State, for example, did not invoke any regulations to bar the respondent from all other public employment in state universities. Had it done so, this, again, would [408 U.S. 564, 574] be a different case. For "[t]o be deprived not only of present government employment but of future opportunity for it certainly is no small injury . . . ." Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee v. McGrath, supra, at 185 (Jackson, J., concurring). See Truax v. Raich, 239 U.S. 33, 41 . The Court has held, for example, that a State, in regulating eligibility for a type of professional employment, cannot foreclose a range of opportunities "in a manner . . . that contravene[s] . . . Due Process," Schware v. Board of Bar Examiners, 353 U.S. 232, 238 , and, specifically, in a manner that denies the right to a full prior hearing. Willner v. Committee on Character, 373 U.S. 96, 103 . See Cafeteria Workers v. McElroy, supra, at 898. In the present case, however, this principle does not come into play. 13
To be sure, the respondent has alleged that the nonrenewal of his contract was based on his exercise of his right to freedom of speech. But this allegation is not now before us. The District Court stayed proceedings on this issue, and the respondent has yet to prove that [408 U.S. 564, 575] the decision not to rehire him was, in fact, based on his free speech activities. 14
Hence, on the record before us, all that clearly appears is that the respondent was not rehired for one year at one university. It stretches the concept too far to suggest that a person is deprived of "liberty" when he simply is not rehired in one job but remains as free as before to seek another. Cafeteria Workers v. McElroy, supra, at 895-896. [408 U.S. 564, 576]
The Fourteenth Amendment's procedural protection of property is a safeguard of the security of interests that a person has already acquired in specific benefits. These interests - property interests - may take many forms.
Thus, the Court has held that a person receiving welfare benefits under statutory and administrative standards defining eligibility for them has an interest in continued receipt of those benefits that is safeguarded by procedural due process. Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254 . 15 See Flemming v. Nestor, 363 U.S. 603, 611 . Similarly, in the area of public employment, the Court has held that a public college professor dismissed from an office held under tenure provisions, Slochower v. Board of Education, 350 U.S. 551 , and college professors and [408 U.S. 564, 577] staff members dismissed during the terms of their contracts, Wieman v. Updegraff, 344 U.S. 183 , have interests in continued employment that are safeguarded by due process. Only last year, the Court held that this principle "proscribing summary dismissal from public employment without hearing or inquiry required by due process" also applied to a teacher recently hired without tenure or a formal contract, but nonetheless with a clearly implied promise of continued employment. Connell v. Higginbotham, 403 U.S. 207, 208 .
Certain attributes of "property" interests protected by procedural due process emerge from these decisions. To have a property interest in a benefit, a person clearly must have more than an abstract need or desire for it. He must have more than a unilateral expectation of it. He must, instead, have a legitimate claim of entitlement to it. It is a purpose of the ancient institution of property to protect those claims upon which people rely in their daily lives, reliance that must not be arbitrarily undermined. It is a purpose of the constitutional right to a hearing to provide an opportunity for a person to vindicate those claims.
Property interests, of course, are not created by the Constitution. Rather, they are created and their dimensions are defined by existing rules or understandings that stem from an independent source such as state law - rules or understandings that secure certain benefits and that support claims of entitlement to those benefits. Thus, the welfare recipients in Goldberg v. Kelly, supra, had a claim of entitlement to welfare payments that was grounded in the statute defining eligibility for them. The recipients had not yet shown that they were, in fact, within the statutory terms of eligibility. But we held that they had a right to a hearing at which they might attempt to do so. [408 U.S. 564, 578]
Just as the welfare recipients' "property" interest in welfare payments was created and defined by statutory terms, so the respondent's "property" interest in employment at Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh was created and defined by the terms of his appointment. Those terms secured his interest in employment up to June 30, 1969. But the important fact in this case is that they specifically provided that the respondent's employment was to terminate on June 30. They did not provide for contract renewal absent "sufficient cause." Indeed, they made no provision for renewal whatsoever.
Thus, the terms of the respondent's appointment secured absolutely no interest in re-employment for the next year. They supported absolutely no possible claim of entitlement to re-employment. Nor, significantly, was there any state statute or University rule or policy that secured his interest in re-employment or that created any legitimate claim to it. 16 In these circumstances, the respondent surely had an abstract concern in being rehired, but he did not have a property interest sufficient to require the University authorities to give him a hearing when they declined to renew his contract of employment.
Our analysis of the respondent's constitutional rights in this case in no way indicates a view that an opportunity for a hearing or a statement of reasons for nonretention would, or would not, be appropriate or wise in public [408 U.S. 564, 579] colleges and universities. 17 For it is a written Constitution that we apply. Our role is confined to interpretation of that Constitution.
We must conclude that the summary judgment for the respondent should not have been granted, since the respondent has not shown that he was deprived of liberty or property protected by the Fourteenth Amendment. The judgment of the Court of Appeals, accordingly, is reversed and the case is remanded for further proceedings consistent with this opinion.
[For concurring opinion of MR. CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER, see post, p. 603.]
[For dissenting opinion of MR. JUSTICE BRENNAN, see post, p. 604.]
The notice of his appointment provided that: "David F. Roth is hereby appointed to the faculty of the Wisconsin State University Position number 0262. (Location:) Oshkosh as (Rank:) Assistant Professor of (Department:) Political Science this (Date:) first day of (Month:) September (Year:) 1968." The notice went on to specify that the respondent's "appointment basis" was for the "academic year." And it provided that "[r]egulations governing tenure are in accord with Chapter 37.31, Wisconsin Statutes. The employment of any staff member for an academic year shall not be for a term beyond June 30th of the fiscal year in which the appointment is made." See n. 2, infra.
[ Footnote 2 ] Wis. Stat. 37.31 (1) (1967), in force at the time, provided in pertinent part that:
[ Footnote 3 ] Wis. Stat. 37.31 (1) further provided that:
[ Footnote 4 ] The Rules, promulgated by the Board of Regents in 1967, provide:
[ Footnote 5 ] While the respondent alleged that he was not rehired because of his exercise of free speech, the petitioners insisted that the non-retention decision was based on other, constitutionally valid grounds. The District Court came to no conclusion whatever regarding the true reason for the University President's decision. "In the present [408 U.S. 564, 569] case," it stated, "it appears that a determination as to the actual bases of [the] decision must await amplification of the facts at trial. . . . Summary judgment is inappropriate." 310 F. Supp. 972, 982.
[ Footnote 6 ] The courts that have had to decide whether a nontenured public employee has a right to a statement of reasons or a hearing upon nonrenewal of his contract have come to varying conclusions. Some have held that neither procedural safeguard is required. E. g., Orr v. Trinter, 444 F.2d 128 (CA6); Jones v. Hopper, 410 F.2d 1323 (CA10); Freeman v. Gould Special School District, 405 F.2d 1153 (CA8). At least one court has held that there is a right to a statement of reasons but not a hearing. Drown v. Portsmouth School District, 435 F.2d 1182 (CA1). And another has held that both requirements depend on whether the employee has an "expectancy" of continued employment. Ferguson v. Thomas, 430 F.2d 852, 856 (CA5).
[ Footnote 7 ] Before a person is deprived of a protected interest, he must be afforded opportunity for some kind of a hearing, "except for extraordinary situations where some valid governmental interest is at stake that justifies postponing the hearing until after the event." Boddie v. Connecticut, 401 U.S. 371, 379 . "While `[m]any controversies have raged about . . . the Due Process Clause,' . . . it is fundamental that except in emergency situations (and this is not one) due process requires that when a State seeks to terminate [a protected] interest . . ., it must afford `notice and opportunity for hearing appropriate to the nature of the case' before the termination becomes effective." Bell v. Burson, 402 U.S. 535, 542 . For the rare and extraordinary situations in which we have held that deprivation of a protected interest need not be preceded by opportunity for some kind of hearing, see, e. g., Central Union Trust Co. v. Garvan, 254 U.S. 554, 566 ; Phillips v. Commissioner, 283 U.S. 589, 597 ; Ewing v. Mytinger & Casselberry, Inc., 339 U.S. 594 .
[ Footnote 8 ] "The formality and procedural requisites for the hearing can vary, depending upon the importance of the interests involved and the nature of the subsequent proceedings." Boddie v. Connecticut, supra, at 378. See, e. g., Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254, 263 ; Hannah v. Larche, 363 U.S. 420 . The constitutional requirement [408 U.S. 564, 571] of opportunity for some form of hearing before deprivation of a protected interest, of course, does not depend upon such a narrow balancing process. See n. 7, supra.
[ Footnote 9 ] In a leading case decided many years ago, the Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia Circuit held that public employment in general was a "privilege," not a "right," and that procedural due process guarantees therefore were inapplicable. Bailey v. Richardson, 86 U.S. App. D.C. 248, 182 F.2d 46, aff'd by an equally divided Court, 341 U.S. 918 . The basis of this holding has been thoroughly undermined in the ensuing years. For, as MR. JUSTICE BLACKMUN wrote for the Court only last year, "this Court now has rejected the concept that constitutional rights turn upon whether a governmental benefit is characterized as a `right' or as a `privilege.'" Graham v. Richardson, 403 U.S. 365, 374 . See, e. g., Morrissey v. Brewer, ante, at 482; Bell v. Burson, supra, at 539; Goldberg v. Kelly, supra, at 262; Shapiro v. Thompson, 394 U.S. 618, 627 n. 6; Pickering v. Board of Education, 391 U.S. 563, 568 ; Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398, 404 .
[ Footnote 10 ] See, e. g., Connell v. Higginbotham, 403 U.S. 207, 208 ; Bell v. Burson, supra; Goldberg v. Kelly, supra.
[ Footnote 11 ] "Although the Court has not assumed to define `liberty' [in the Fifth Amendment's Due Process Clause] with any great precision, that term is not confined to mere freedom from bodily restraint." Bolling v. Sharpe, 347 U.S. 497, 499 . See, e. g., Stanley v. Illinois, 405 U.S. 645 .
[ Footnote 12 ] The purpose of such notice and hearing is to provide the person an opportunity to clear his name. Once a person has cleared his name at a hearing, his employer, of course, may remain free to deny him future employment for other reasons.
[ Footnote 13 ] The District Court made an assumption "that non-retention by one university or college creates concrete and practical difficulties for a professor in his subsequent academic career." 310 F. Supp., at 979. And the Court of Appeals based its affirmance of the summary judgment largely on the premise that "the substantial adverse effect non-retention is likely to have upon the career interests of an individual professor" amounts to a limitation on future employment opportunities sufficient to invoke procedural due process guarantees. 446 F.2d, at 809. But even assuming, arguendo, that such a "substantial adverse effect" under these circumstances would constitute a state-imposed restriction on liberty, the record contains no support for these assumptions. There is no suggestion of how nonretention might affect the respondent's future employment prospects. Mere proof, for example, that his record of nonretention in one job, taken alone, might make him somewhat less attractive to some other employers would hardly establish the kind of foreclosure of opportunities amounting to a deprivation of "liberty." Cf. Schware v. Board of Bar Examiners, 353 U.S. 232 .
[ Footnote 14 ] See n. 5, supra. The Court of Appeals, nonetheless, argued that opportunity for a hearing and a statement of reasons were required here "as a prophylactic against non-retention decisions improperly motivated by exercise of protected rights." 446 F.2d, at 810 (emphasis supplied). While the Court of Appeals recognized the lack of a finding that the respondent's nonretention was based on exercise of the right of free speech, it felt that the respondent's interest in liberty was sufficiently implicated here because the decision not to rehire him was made "with a background of controversy and unwelcome expressions of opinion." Ibid.
When a State would directly impinge upon interests in free speech or free press, this Court has on occasion held that opportunity for a fair adversary hearing must precede the action, whether or not the speech or press interest is clearly protected under substantive First Amendment standards. Thus, we have required fair notice and opportunity for an adversary hearing before an injunction is issued against the holding of rallies and public meetings. Carroll v. Princess Anne, 393 U.S. 175 . Similarly, we have indicated the necessity of procedural safeguards before a State makes a large-scale seizure of a person's allegedly obscene books, magazines, and so forth. A Quantity of Books v. Kansas, 378 U.S. 205 ; Marcus v. Search Warrant, 367 U.S. 717 . See Freedman v. Maryland, 380 U.S. 51 ; Bantam Books v. Sullivan, 372 U.S. 58 . See generally Monaghan, First Amendment "Due Process," 83 Harv. L. Rev. 518.
In the respondent's case, however, the State has not directly impinged upon interests in free speech or free press in any way comparable to a seizure of books or an injunction against meetings. Whatever may be a teacher's rights of free speech, the interest in holding a teaching job at a state university, simpliciter, is not itself a free speech interest.
[ Footnote 15 ] Goldsmith v. Board of Tax Appeals, 270 U.S. 117 , is a related case. There, the petitioner was a lawyer who had been refused admission to practice before the Board of Tax Appeals. The Board had "published rules for admission of persons entitled to practice before it, by which attorneys at law admitted to courts of the United States and the States, and the District of Columbia, as well as certified public accountants duly qualified under the law of any State or the District, are made eligible. . . . The rules further provide that the Board may in its discretion deny admission to any applicant, or suspend or disbar any person after admission." Id., at 119. The Board denied admission to the petitioner under its discretionary power, without a prior hearing and a statement of the reasons for the denial. Although this Court disposed of the case on other grounds, it stated, in an opinion by Mr. Chief Justice Taft, that the existence of the Board's eligibility rules gave the petitioner an interest and claim to practice before the Board to which procedural due process requirements applied. It said that the Board's discretionary power "must be construed to mean the exercise of a discretion to be exercised after fair investigation, with such a notice, hearing and opportunity to answer for the applicant as would constitute due process." Id., at 123.
[ Footnote 16 ] To be sure, the respondent does suggest that most teachers hired on a year-to-year basis by Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh are, in fact, rehired. But the District Court has not found that there is anything approaching a "common law" of re-employment, see Perry v. Sindermann, post, at 602, so strong as to require University officials to give the respondent a statement of reasons and a hearing on their decision not to rehire him.
[ Footnote 17 ] See, e. g., Report of Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure, Procedural Standards in the Renewal or Nonrenewal of Faculty Appointments, 56 AAUP Bulletin No. 1, p. 21 (Spring 1970).
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS, dissenting.
Respondent Roth, like Sindermann in the companion case, had no tenure under Wisconsin law and, unlike Sindermann, he had had only one year of teaching at Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh - where during 1968-1969 he had been Assistant Professor of Political Science and International Studies. Though Roth was rated by the faculty as an excellent teacher, he had publicly criticized the administration for suspending an entire group of 94 black students without determining individual guilt. He also criticized the university's regime as being authoritarian and autocratic. He used his classroom to discuss what was being done about the [408 U.S. 564, 580] black episode; and one day, instead of meeting his class, he went to the meeting of the Board of Regents.
In this case, as in Sindermann, an action was started in Federal District Court under 42 U.S.C. 1983 1 claiming in part that the decision of the school authorities not to rehire was in retaliation for his expression of opinion. The District Court, in partially granting Roth's motion for summary judgment, held that the Fourteenth Amendment required the university to give a hearing to teachers whose contracts were not to be renewed and to give reasons for its action. 310 F. Supp. 972, 983. The Court of Appeals affirmed. 446 F.2d 806.
Professor Will Herberg, of Drew University, in writing of "academic freedom" recently said:
No more direct assault on academic freedom can be imagined than for the school authorities to be allowed to discharge a teacher because of his or her philosophical, political, or ideological beliefs. The same may well be true of private schools, if through the device of financing or other umbilical cords they become instrumentalities of the State. Mr. Justice Frankfurter stated the constitutional theory in Sweezy v. New Hampshire, 354 U.S. 234, 261 -262 (concurring in result):
In the case of teachers whose contracts are not renewed, tenure is not the critical issue. In the Sweezy case, the teacher, whose First Amendment rights we honored, had no tenure but was only a guest lecturer. In the Keyishian case, one of the petitioners (Keyishian himself) had only a "one-year-term contract" that was not renewed. 385 U.S., at 592 . In Shelton v. Tucker, 364 U.S. 479 , one of the petitioners was [408 U.S. 564, 583] a teacher whose "contract for the ensuing school year was not renewed" (id., at 483) and two others who refused to comply were advised that it made "impossible their re-employment as teachers for the following school year." Id., at 484. The oath required in Keyishian and the affidavit listing memberships required in Shelton were both, in our view, in violation of First Amendment rights. Those cases mean that conditioning renewal of a teacher's contract upon surrender of First Amendment rights is beyond the power of a State.
There is sometimes a conflict between a claim for First Amendment protection and the need for orderly administration of the school system, as we noted in Pickering v. Board of Education, 391 U.S. 563, 569 . That is one reason why summary judgments in this class of cases are seldom appropriate. Another reason is that careful factfinding is often necessary to know whether the given reason for nonrenewal of a teacher's contract is the real reason or a feigned one.
It is said that since teaching in a public school is a privilege, the State can grant it or withhold it on conditions. We have, however, rejected that thesis in numerous cases, e. g., Graham v. Richardson, 403 U.S. 365, 374 . See Van Alstyne, The Demise of the Right-Privilege Distinction in Constitutional Law, 81 Harv. L. Rev. 1439 (1968). In Hannegan v. Esquire, Inc., 327 U.S. 146, 156 , we said that Congress may not by withdrawal of mailing privileges place limitations on freedom of speech which it could not do constitutionally if done directly. We said in American Communications Assn. v. Douds, 339 U.S. 382, 402 , that freedom of speech was abridged when the only restraint on its exercise was withdrawal of the privilege to invoke the facilities of the National Labor Relations Board. In Wieman v. Updegraff, 344 U.S. 183 , we held that an applicant could not be denied the opportunity [408 U.S. 564, 584] for public employment because he had exercised his First Amendment rights. And in Speiser v. Randall, 357 U.S. 513 , we held that a denial of a tax exemption unless one gave up his First Amendment rights was an abridgment of Fourteenth Amendment rights.
As we held in Speiser v. Randall, supra, when a State proposes to deny a privilege to one who it alleges has engaged in unprotected speech, Due Process requires that the State bear the burden of proving that the speech was not protected. "[T]he `protection of the individual against arbitrary action' . . . [is] the very essence of due process," Slochower v. Board of Education, 350 U.S. 551, 559 , but where the State is allowed to act secretly behind closed doors and without any notice to those who are affected by its actions, there is no check against the possibility of such "arbitrary action."
Moreover, where "important interests" of the citizen are implicated (Bell v. Burson, 402 U.S. 535, 539 ) they are not to be denied or taken away without due process. Ibid. Bell v. Burson involved a driver's license. But also included are disqualification for unemployment compensation (Sherbert v. Verner, 374 U.S. 398 ), discharge from public employment (Slochower v. Board of Education, supra), denial of tax exemption (Speiser v. Randall, supra), and withdrawal of welfare benefits (Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254 ). And see Wisconsin v. Constantineau, 400 U.S. 433 . We should now add that nonrenewal of a teacher's contract, whether or not he has tenure, is an entitlement of the same importance and dignity.
Cafeteria Workers v. McElroy, 367 U.S. 886 , is not opposed. It held that a cook employed in a cafeteria in a military installation was not entitled to a hearing prior [408 U.S. 564, 585] to the withdrawal of her access to the facility. Her employer was prepared to employ her at another of its restaurants, the withdrawal was not likely to injure her reputation, and her employment opportunities elsewhere were not impaired. The Court held that the very limited individual interest in this one job did not outweigh the Government's authority over an important federal military establishment. Nonrenewal of a teacher's contract is tantamount in effect to a dismissal and the consequences may be enormous. Nonrenewal can be a blemish that turns into a permanent scar and effectively limits any chance the teacher has of being rehired as a teacher, at least in his State.
If this nonrenewal implicated the First Amendment, then Roth was deprived of constitutional rights because his employment was conditioned on a surrender of First Amendment rights; and, apart from the First Amendment, he was denied due process when he received no notice and hearing of the adverse action contemplated against him. Without a statement of the reasons for the discharge and an opportunity to rebut those reasons - both of which were refused by petitioners - there is no means short of a lawsuit to safeguard the right not to be discharged for the exercise of First Amendment guarantees.
The District Court held, 310 F. Supp., at 979-980:
Accordingly I would affirm the judgment of the Court of Appeals.
[ Footnote 1 ] Section 1983 reads as follows:
[ Footnote 2 ] Such a procedure would not be contrary to the well-settled rule that 1983 actions do not require exhaustion of other remedies. See, e. g., Wilwording v. Swenson, 404 U.S. 249 (1971); Damico v. California, 389 U.S. 416 (1967); McNeese v. Board of Education, 373 U.S. 668 (1963); Monroe v. Pape, 365 U.S. 167 (1961). One of the allegations in the complaint was that respondent was denied any effective state remedy, and the District Court's staying its hand thus furthered rather than thwarted the purposes of 1983.
MR. JUSTICE MARSHALL, dissenting.
Respondent was hired as an assistant professor of political science at Wisconsin State University-Oshkosh for the 1968-1969 academic year. During the course of that year he was told that he would not be rehired for the next academic term, but he was never told why. In this case, he asserts that the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment to the United States Constitution entitled him to a statement of reasons and a hearing on the University's decision not to rehire him for another year. 1 This claim was sustained by the District Court, which granted respondent summary judgment, 310 F. Supp. 972, and by the Court of Appeals which affirmed the judgment of the District Court. 446 F.2d 806. This Court today reverses the judgment of the Court of Appeals and rejects respondent's claim. I dissent.
While I agree with Part I of the Court's opinion, setting forth the proper framework for consideration of the issue presented, and also with those portions of Parts II and III of the Court's opinion that assert that a public employee is entitled to procedural due process whenever a State stigmatizes him by denying employment, or injures his future employment prospects severely, or whenever the State deprives him of a property [408 U.S. 564, 588] interest, I would go further than the Court does in defining the terms "liberty" and "property."
The prior decisions of this Court, discussed at length in the opinion of the Court, establish a principle that is as obvious as it is compelling - i. e., federal and state governments and governmental agencies are restrained by the Constitution from acting arbitrarily with respect to employment opportunities that they either offer or control. Hence, it is now firmly established that whether or not a private employer is free to act capriciously or unreasonably with respect to employment practices, at least absent statutory 2 or contractual 3 controls, a government employer is different. The government may only act fairly and reasonably.
This Court has long maintained that "the right to work for a living in the common occupations of the community is of the very essence of the personal freedom and opportunity that it was the purpose of the [Fourteenth] Amendment to secure." Truax v. Raich, 239 U.S. 33, 41 (1915) (Hughes, J.). See also Meyer v. Nebraska, 262 U.S. 390, 399 (1923). It has also established that the fact that an employee has no contract guaranteeing work for a specific future period does not mean that as the result of action by the government he may be "discharged at any time for any reason or for no reason." Truax v. Raich, supra, at 38.
In my view, every citizen who applies for a government job is entitled to it unless the government can establish some reason for denying the employment. This is the "property" right that I believe is protected by the Fourteenth Amendment and that cannot be denied "without due process of law." And it is also liberty - [408 U.S. 564, 589] liberty to work - which is the "very essence of the personal freedom and opportunity" secured by the Fourteenth Amendment.
This Court has often had occasion to note that the denial of public employment is a serious blow to any citizen. See, e. g., Joint Anti-Fascist Refugee Committee v. McGrath, 341 U.S. 123, 185 (1951) (Jackson, J., concurring); United States v. Lovett, 328 U.S. 303, 316 -317 (1946). Thus, when an application for public employment is denied or the contract of a government employee is not renewed, the government must say why, for it is only when the reasons underlying government action are known that citizens feel secure and protected against arbitrary government action.
Employment is one of the greatest, if not the greatest, benefits that governments offer in modern-day life. When something as valuable as the opportunity to work is at stake, the government may not reward some citizens and not others without demonstrating that its actions are fair and equitable. And it is procedural due process that is our fundamental guarantee of fairness, our protection against arbitrary, capricious, and unreasonable government action.
MR. JUSTICE DOUGLAS has written that:
We have often noted that procedural due process means many different things in the numerous contexts in which it applies. See, e. g., Goldberg v. Kelly, 397 U.S. 254 (1970); Bell v. Burson, 402 U.S. 535 (1971). Prior decisions have held that an applicant for admission to practice as an attorney before the United States Board of Tax Appeals may not be rejected without a statement of reasons and a chance for a hearing on disputed issues of fact; 4 that a tenured teacher could not be summarily dismissed without notice of the reasons and a hearing; 5 that an applicant for admission to a state bar could not be denied the opportunity to practice law without notice of the reasons for the rejection of his application and a hearing; 6 and even that a substitute teacher who had been employed only two months could not be dismissed merely because she refused to take a loyalty oath without an inquiry into the specific facts of her case and a hearing on those in dispute. 7 I would follow these cases and hold that respondent was denied due process when his contract was not renewed and he was not informed of the reasons and given an opportunity to respond. [408 U.S. 564, 591]
It may be argued that to provide procedural due process to all public employees or prospective employees would place an intolerable burden on the machinery of government. Cf. Goldberg v. Kelly, supra. The short answer to that argument is that it is not burdensome to give reasons when reasons exist. Whenever an application for employment is denied, an employee is discharged, or a decision not to rehire an employee is made, there should be some reason for the decision. It can scarcely be argued that government would be crippled by a requirement that the reason be communicated to the person most directly affected by the government's action.
Where there are numerous applicants for jobs, it is likely that few will choose to demand reasons for not being hired. But, if the demand for reasons is exceptionally great, summary procedures can be devised that would provide fair and adequate information to all persons. As long as the government has a good reason for its actions it need not fear disclosure. It is only where the government acts improperly that procedural due process is truly burdensome. And that is precisely when it is most necessary.
It might also be argued that to require a hearing and a statement of reasons is to require a useless act, because a government bent on denying employment to one or more persons will do so regardless of the procedural hurdles that are placed in its path. Perhaps this is so, but a requirement of procedural regularity at least renders arbitrary action more difficult. Moreover, proper procedures will surely eliminate some of the arbitrariness that results, not from malice, but from innocent error. "Experience teaches . . . that the affording of procedural safeguards, which by their nature serve to illuminate the underlying facts, in itself often operates to prevent erroneous decisions on the merits [408 U.S. 564, 592] from occurring." Silver v. New York Stock Exchange, 373 U.S. 341, 366 (1963). When the government knows it may have to justify its decisions with sound reasons, its conduct is likely to be more cautious, careful, and correct.
Professor Gellhorn put the argument well:
[ Footnote 1 ] Respondent has also alleged that the true reason for the decision not to rehire him was to punish him for certain statements critical of the University. As the Court points out, this issue is not before us at the present time.
[ Footnote 2 ] See, e. g., Griggs v. Duke Power Co., 401 U.S. 424 (1971); 42 U.S.C. 2000e.
[ Footnote 3 ] Cf. Note, Procedural "Due Process" in Union Disciplinary Proceedings, 57 Yale L. J. 1302 (1948).
[ Footnote 4 ] Goldsmith v. Board of Tax Appeals, 270 U.S. 117 (1926).
[ Footnote 5 ] Slochower v. Board of Education, 350 U.S. 551 (1956).
[ Footnote 6 ] Willner v. Committee on Character, 373 U.S. 96 (1963).