Marquette Attempt to Fire Warrior Blogger / Update
John McAdams was a conservative professor at Marquette University, teaching political science. When he blogged criticizing a liberal graduate instructor who refused to permit debate about gay marriage, claiming that any opinion against gay marriage was homophobic and would not be permitted in her class, Marquette administration threw the book at McAdams. He was suspended from his teaching duties and banned from campus as if he were a dangerous criminal – all in violation of his teaching contract, which requires various procedures be followed before a suspension may be imposed.An organization on our side is the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, the nation’s most important defender of academic freedom, both for faculty and students. They published a recent article on the case, and noted:
Marquette then moved to formally fire McAdams. The university convened a “faculty hearing committee” that failed to provide McAdams his contractual due process rights, such as unbiased members and the right to access all of the university’s evidence and witnesses. After a weeklong hearing, the committee issued a convoluted report that created new rules it could then claim McAdams violated. The committee recommended he be suspended without pay for one or two semesters.
Marquette President Michael Lovell went beyond that recommendation, however, not only suspending him but giving him a few days to issue a Soviet-style admission of wrongdoing or be fired. McAdams refused to engage in such coerced speech, and has been indefinitely suspended without pay – effectively terminated.
McAdams sued Marquette for breach of his employment contract. The trial court ruled in favor of Marquette, concluding that it had to defer to the faculty hearing committee, and adopted all of its findings of fact and conclusions of law, despite McAdams proving that Marquette had withheld key information from the committee. We appealed and asked the Wisconsin Supreme Court to bypass the Court of Appeals, hearing the case immediately.
If a faculty member is not free to criticize, even publicly, the pedagogy of a fellow instructor, or to respond in kind to his or her critics, important institutional dialogues about teaching, scholarship, politics, and more will be deeply chilled. Faculty already report being reluctant to speak out and even to teach about sensitive issues for fear of professional repercussions. If the lower court’s ruling stands, the increasing chill on faculty expression will only intrude further as administrators around the country seize on the decision to justify disciplining faculty for public dissent on topics both internal and external to the university.Finally, three radio interviews about the case. First, Tom Kamenick (one of our legal team) on the Jerry Bader show out of Green Bay.
Second, our interview with Right Wisconsin.
Finally, Rick Esenberg (head of our legal team) on the Jim Bohannan show (national).