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.
The professor was hired for his first teaching job as an assistant professor at a state-run university. He was hired for a fixed term of one year and was not re-hired the following year. The professor brought suit against the university alleging that he was denied his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process because the university never gave him a reason for its decision not to re-hire him and further he had no opportunity to challenge the decision at a hearing. The lower court granted summary judgment on the procedural issue and ordered the university to provide the professor with reasons and a hearing. The appellate court affirmed and the board of regents sought review.
Did the university deny the professor of his Fourteenth Amendment right to due process?
The Court held that the professor had no protected interest in continued employment, as he had completed his contract for term, therefore, there could be no Fourteenth Amendment protection. He was not entitled to a hearing and the university was not required to provide the professor with reasons on why it would not be re-hiring him.