Champaign County Courthouse Judge Chase Leonhard ruled that Steven Salaita will be able to move forward in his Freedom of Information Act lawsuit against the University Friday afternoon.
Salaita was not present at the 2:30 p.m. hearing, but was represented by Attorney Anand Swaminathan of Chicago civil rights law firm Loevy & Loevy.
The University tried to dismiss the suit, claiming Salaita did not have the proper standing to sue the University because the initial FOIA request was filed by the Center for Constitutional Rights.
Swaminathan argued the letter to the University made it clear that the Center for Constitutional Rights was representing Salaita, and the case should be able to move forward.
Salaita filed the lawsuit on Nov. 17, under the claim the University failed to comply with the Freedom of Information Act, which requires public bodies to disclose specific records unless those records fall under exemption.
Salaita was appointed a tenured position in the American Indian Studies program October 2013. However, after posting tweets regarding conflict in Gaza, Salaita was notified on Aug. 1 that the Board of Trustees was unlikely to approve his appointment. On Sept. 11, trustees rejected Salaita in an 8-1 vote, and recently released a statement in January stating their decision is final.
Salaita's FOIA was filed Sept. 17, six days after his appointment was rejected. The University responded to the FOIA, stating it was unduly burdensome and urged Salaita to narrow his request.
On Oct. 15, Salaita issued a new request, which asked for emails between 15 University officials over a three-month period, according to the lawsuit.
The University again orally rejected the request, stating it would require reviewing between 8,000 to 10,000 emails. Salaita responded by reducing the timeframe to two months and claims he never received a response.
In a previous interview with The Daily Illini, Campus Spokeswoman Robin Kaler said although Salaita had not received the emails requested, he was involved in ongoing conversation with the University's lawyers.
She said the emails requested were part of the continuing discussion and the University hoped to reach an agreement.
Judge Leonhard allowed the motion for Salaita to amend the complaint. Another hearing is scheduled for April 13.