Coming from France, where any official academic position (i.e. associate professor or full professor, or equivalent positions at public research institutes) is a civil-servant one, and therefore automatically for life, I've been always intrigued by the "tenure" system in the US.
While reading the Wikipedia article, I spotted the following paragraph:
While tenure protects the occupant of an academic position, it does not protect against the elimination of that position. For example, a university that is under financial stress may take the drastic step of eliminating or downsizing some departments.
Does this kind of elimination/downsizing occur a lot in practice? Is it possible to "cheat" and to pretend to cut a position in order to save money just to get rid of a tenured professor? Are there some laws stating that if a position is cut, then another equivalent one cannot be created right after?