Supreme Court declines to hear fired professor’s appeal

James Tracy is both a former FAU professor and noted conspiracy theorist who in past years claimed the Sandy Hook shooting did not happen.


James Tracy guest lecturing in political science professor Marshall DeRosa’s class. Photo by Alexander Rodriguez

Kendall Little, Managing Editor

The U.S. Supreme Court declined to take up an appeal from former FAU professor James Tracy on Monday. Tracy claimed that the university violated his First Amendment right to free speech by terminating him in 2015.

Tracy maintains the “Memory Hole Blog”  where he has publicly questioned if the Sandy Hook Massacre actually occurred. The massacre happened in 2012 when a gunman killed 20 children and six adults in a Connecticut elementary school.

At the time, Tracy was a tenured professor at FAU’s School of Communication and Multimedia Studies.

University officials did not ask Tracy to stop posting on his blog, but requested that he publish a disclaimer and report the website as an outside activity. Tracy agreed to the former, but not the latter.

After two years of multiple requests from university officials to comply and report his blog, the university terminated Tracy in 2015, citing insubordination. 

Tracy promptly sued, claiming that the university violated his First Amendment right to free speech. University officials said in 2020 that, “Tracy’s blog speech was [not] a motivating factor in FAU’s decision to discharge him from employment.” 

He took the case to the Supreme Court after losing in U.S. District Court and in the 11th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

Tracy’s attorneys filed a petition at the Supreme Court that claimed the university’s conflict-of-interest policy, which states employees must report outside activity to the university, was too broad and allowed “unbridled discretion to engage in content-based viewpoint discrimination against employees.”

On Monday the Supreme Court declined to hear Tracy’s case against the university, but did not state why.

Tracy’s attorneys did not respond to requests to comment by time of publication. Joshua Glanzer, associate vice president for Media Relations and Public Affairs, told the UP that he is currently looking into the case outcome. 

This article will be updated as more information becomes available.

Kendall Little is the Managing Editor for the University Press. For more information regarding this or other stories, email [email protected] or tweet her @klittlewrites.