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November 8, 1985

Academic Dismissals: Due Process: Part II

Author Affiliations

From the Office of the General Counsel, American Medical Association. For further information and reprints, write to the Office of the General Counsel, American Medical Association, 535 N Dearborn St, Chicago, IL 60610.

JAMA. 1985;254(18):2653-2656. doi:10.1001/jama.1985.03360180161047

THE first part of this article discussed the Horowitz case and the procedural due process a school must follow before it can dismiss a student for academic reasons.

Different from "procedural" due process is "substantive" due process, which is generally defined as the right to a decision that is not arbitrary or capricious. While the plurality opinion in Board of Curators of the University of Missouri v Horowitz, 98 SCt 948 (1978), only briefly and ambiguously referred to substantive due process, 98 SCt at 956, lower courts before and after Horowitz have held that under the US Constitution public institutions may not dismiss students for reasons that are arbitrary or capricious. See generally Ewing v Board of Regents of the University of Michigan, 559 FSupp 791, 797-798 (1983). The reluctance of courts to become involved is especially strong here, however, as academic expertise and discretion will be involved. In practice,