Bandy Lee received national attention in 2017 when, as a psychiatrist associated with Yale University, she publicly asserted that Donald Trump was not mentally fit to be president and that his mental health constituted a national “state of emergency.” Lee’s assertions potentially implicated the so-called Goldwater Rule, one of the American Psychiatric Association’s Principles of Medical Ethics that prohibits psychiatrists from opining about public figures whom they have not personally examined. Following Lee’s continued public statements and (according to her) because of them, Yale decided in 2020 not to renew her contractual appointment to her clinical academic post—a contract it had previously and repeatedly renewed.
Lee sued Yale in March 2021, alleging—among other things—a violation of Section 31-51q of the Connecticut General Statutes, which shields an “employee” from “discipline or discharge” on the basis of certain constitutionally protected conduct, including speech protected by the First Amendment. Yale has moved to dismiss the complaint. Its motion (which remains pending) advances a host of legal and factual arguments, most of which (including whether Lee even qualified as a Yale “employee”) seem to be specific to Lee’s case.