GILBERT, PRESIDENT, EAST STROUDSBURG UNIVERSITY v. HOMAR

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Case Basics
Docket No. 
96-651
Petitioner 
Gilbert, President, East Stroudsburg University, et al.
Respondent 
Hamar
Advocates
(on behalf of the Petitioners)
(on behalf of the United States, as amicus curiae, supporting the Petitioners)
(on behalf of the Respondents)
(on behalf of the National Treasury Employees Union, as amicus curiae, supporting the Respondent)
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Facts of the Case 

Richard J. Homar, a tenured policeman for East Stroudsburg University (ESU), was arrested for possession of illegal drugs. ESU, a Pennsylvania state institution, immediately suspended him without pay until his culpability could be determined. State police dropped the charges but the suspension continued. At a later hearing ESU demoted Homar to groundskeeper, relying on his confession to police. Homar argued that ESU president James Gilbert had violated the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by failing to provide him with notice and an opportunity to be heard before the suspension. A district court granted summary judgment to ESU. The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Third Circuit reversed the decision, holding that it was illegal to withhold pay without first providing a hearing.

Question 

Does a state institution violate the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth Amendment by suspending a tenured employee without pay before holding a hearing in which the employee can voice objections?

Conclusion 
Decision: 9 votes for Gilbert, President, East Stroudsburg University, 0 vote(s) against
Legal provision: Due Process

No. The Court ruled unanimously that a pre-suspension hearing is not necessary to protect the rights of a tenured employee who is suspended without pay. The opinion by Justice Antonin Scalia balanced three factors relevant to constitutional due process: 1) the weight of the private interest of the accused; 2) the chance of wrongfully depriving the private interest; and 3) the weight of the government's interest. The Court held that "[s]o long as the suspended employee receives a sufficiently prompt post suspension hearing, the lost income is relatively insubstantial."

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GILBERT, PRESIDENT, EAST STROUDSBURG UNIVERSITY v. HOMAR. The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law. 20 June 2014. <http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1996/1996_96_651>.
GILBERT, PRESIDENT, EAST STROUDSBURG UNIVERSITY v. HOMAR, The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1996/1996_96_651 (last visited June 20, 2014).
"GILBERT, PRESIDENT, EAST STROUDSBURG UNIVERSITY v. HOMAR," The Oyez Project at IIT Chicago-Kent College of Law, accessed June 20, 2014, http://www.oyez.org/cases/1990-1999/1996/1996_96_651.