University of Miami (UM) law professor Daniel Ravicher has claimed on Twitter that the school threatened to fire him unless he retracted alleging voter fraud by Democrats in this year’s presidential election.
The day after the election, Ravicher tweeted that “Democrats in Philly, Atlanta, Detroit, and other swing state cities” knew Joe Biden had lost, and that they stopped counting votes “just to deny Donald Trump’s ability to win.” He further suggested Democrats employed “dirty tricks.”
Ten days later, the professor tweeted that he would be “fired” by not having his contract renewed when it expires in May 2022 or perhaps sooner, if he wouldn’t “at minimum retract and apologize” for his tweets.
… be determined. I'm not sure how else to interpret, "you made a serious mistake and that you can, and should, correct it", "you do have some serious repair work to do", and "it's not too late". Seems pretty clear to me.
I have been fired, it's just my termination date is TBD.
— Dan Ravicher (@danravicher) November 13, 2020
In a statement to Miami Herald, UM College of Law dean Anthony Varona denied Ravicher’s accusation, stating that Ravicher “has not been terminated nor threatened with termination by me or anyone else in the University of Miami leadership because of his social media posts.”
Varona added that the professor made “numerous inaccurate statements” in his tweets and interviews and many of the things he said were “simply not true.”
Criticism from Colleagues
Colleagues at the UM Law Department published an open letter in student paper The Miami Hurricane on November 11, criticizing Ravicher’s “baseless claims” of electoral fraud and how his social media posts demonstrate an “egregious lack of professional judgment.” They also stated they are “voicing concern that these statements potentially reflect deeper failings.”
The letter also expounded the role of law instructors and their commitment to students “as faculty, as officers of the court and as professionals.” Law instructors need to “exercise judgment and leadership in our public engagement.”
Ravicher also responded in a letter of his own dated November 16 stating that his critics’ conclusion that “words are violence” is a “path to censorship” that should be avoided. He also said it was “unacceptable” that his colleagues want him to be punished for sharing his “absolutely protected opinion.”
The law professor cited the university’s faculty manual, stating that “things said by faculty in their private life shall have no bearing on their continued employment.” He then stated that he, as a conservative, has been “pushed out, told I will no longer have a job if I don’t retract my statements and apologize.
Dean Varona then released his own letter dated November 19 to address Ravicher’s claims. He reiterated that the law professor has not been “fired,” “pushed out,” nor “cancelled.” He assured that Ravicher is still teaching this fall and is also on the schedule for the spring semester.
Varona denied that supporting Trump is an issue, pointing out that while many professors openly support Biden, there are also professors who support President Trump. Varona also clarified that he merely “made the reactions known” to Ravicher and advised him to take a “more professional and professorial approach.”
Varona expressed that professors should balance their speech rights against their professional responsibilities to make classrooms and campuses “welcoming” and “enabling” to all students. “This is what I have reminded Ravicher,” Varona wrote. He also stated that there was nothing in their exchanges that he would not say to any tenured professor facing the same issues.