Salaita files response to University’s attempt to dismiss civil lawsuit

By Maggie Sullivan

Steven Salaita is fighting back against the University’s action to dismiss his civil rights lawsuit against the Board of Trustees, University administrators and unnamed donors.

Salaita and the Center for Constitutional Rights filed a response Monday in opposition of the University’s motion to dismiss the suit on Feb. 25.

The University’s motion to dismiss stated the suit should be dismissed because Salaita failed to “state a claim upon which relief can be granted,” and because the court does not have jurisdiction over the case.

“We received the response late last night and we are reviewing it,” Robin Kaler, campus spokesperson, said in an email, “Our reply brief is due on April 20, and we will present our legal arguments in reply to Dr. Salaita’s brief at that time.”

If the response is approved and the University’s motion is denied, the case will go forward, said Anand Swaminathan, Salaita’s attorney from the Chicago law firm Loevy & Loevy.

In the response, Salaita’s attorneys detail how they believe Salaita’s rights were violated constitutionally and contractually, providing a basis for the lawsuit. Salaita and his attorneys argued it would be a “miscarriage of justice” to dismiss the allegations completely before they can be proven true or false.

Salaita’s legal team also stated the University acted under pressure from private donors who threatened to withdraw their financial support of the University if Salaita was hired. The response further alleges that Salaita’s tweets were not bigoted.

The report ultimately states the defendants have no standing to dismiss Salaita’s claims and urges for the motion denied and the suit to proceed.

Salaita filed a lawsuit against the University on Jan. 29 in the Northern District of Illinois; he is suing the University for the tenured position he was originally offered and monetary compensation.

Salaita’s offer of employment at the University was rescinded in August 2014, after he posted controversial tweets regarding the conflict in Gaza. The Board of Trustees voted not to reinstate Salaita at its Sept. 11 meeting and reaffirmed its decision in a statement issued on Jan. 15.

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