Perry v. Sindermann, 408 U.S. 593 (1972)

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Author: Justice Burger

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Perry v. Sindermann, 408 U.S. 593 (1972)

MR. CHIEF JUSTICE BURGER, concurring.*

I concur in the Court’s judgments and opinions in Sindermann and Roth, but there is one central point in both decisions that I would like to underscore, since it may have been obscured in the comprehensive discussion of the cases. That point is that the relationship between a state institution and one of its teachers is essentially a matter of state concern and state law. The Court holds today only that a state employed teacher who has a right to reemployment under state law, arising from either an express or implied contract has, in turn, a right, guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, to some form of prior administrative or academic hearing on the cause for nonrenewal of his contract. Thus, whether a particular teacher in a particular context has any right to such administrative hearing hinges on a question of state law. The Court’s opinion makes this point very sharply:

Property interests . . . are created and their dimensions are defined by existing rules or understandings that stem from an independent source such as state law. . . .

Board of Regents v. Roth, ante at 577.

Because the availability of the Fourteenth Amendment right to a prior administrative hearing turns in each case on a question of state law, the issue of abstention will arise in future cases contesting whether a particular teacher is entitled to a hearing prior to nonrenewal of his contract. If relevant state contract law is unclear, a federal court should, in my view, abstain from deciding whether he is constitutionally entitled to a prior hearing, and the teacher should be left to resort to state courts on the questions arising under state law.

* This opinion applies also to No. 71-162, Board of Regents of State Colleges et al. v. Roth, ante, p. 564.

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Chicago: Burger, "Burger, J., Concurring," Perry v. Sindermann, 408 U.S. 593 (1972) in 408 U.S. 593 408 U.S. 604. Original Sources, accessed August 25, 2019, http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=PWKQKKHD39C3PKG.

MLA: Burger. "Burger, J., Concurring." Perry v. Sindermann, 408 U.S. 593 (1972), in 408 U.S. 593, page 408 U.S. 604. Original Sources. 25 Aug. 2019. www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=PWKQKKHD39C3PKG.

Harvard: Burger, 'Burger, J., Concurring' in Perry v. Sindermann, 408 U.S. 593 (1972). cited in 1972, 408 U.S. 593, pp.408 U.S. 604. Original Sources, retrieved 25 August 2019, from http://www.originalsources.com/Document.aspx?DocID=PWKQKKHD39C3PKG.