Monday, January 22, 2018

Our Case v. Marquette Goes Direct to the Wisconsin Supreme Court

Wisconsin Supreme Court Agrees to Hear McAdams v. Marquette

WILL, McAdams had petitioned for the state Supreme Court to take case because of its effect on all colleges, universities in state

January 22, 2018 – Milwaukee, WI – The Wisconsin Supreme Court has agreed to bypass the Court of Appeals and immediately hear Professor John McAdams’ case against Marquette University. McAdams sued Marquette after the university fired him for blogging about a graduate student instructor who mistreated her undergraduate pupil. The court will likely hear oral argument in April or May and issue a ruling by July.

“We are pleased that the state Supreme Court has agreed to hear our case on behalf of John McAdams,” said Rick Esenberg, President and General Counsel at WILL. “It is very important to have clarification on this important issue and I’m glad that John will have his day in court sooner than later.”

WILL asked the court to take the case because there is no binding precedent on the question of how far academic freedom extends. A ruling from the court will also provide a standard for the rights of professors at UW System schools and private universities and colleges that also promise their faculty academic freedom.

In November 2014, McAdams shared a story on his blog, Marquette Warrior, of an undergraduate student who had been told by a graduate student instructor, Cheryl Abbate, that he could not express his disagreement with same-sex marriage in her theory of ethics class because doing so would be homophobic and offensive. The story went national, resulting in significant amounts of bad press for Marquette.

In response, Marquette summarily suspended McAdams from his teaching duties and banned him from campus, initiating proceedings to revoke his tenure and fire him. An internal faculty hearing committee (FHC) was convened to judge the dispute, but it suffered from serious procedural flaws, as Marquette withheld evidence from McAdams and allowed a clearly-biased professor to sit on the FHC. The FHC eventually recommended McAdams be suspended for two semesters. Instead, Marquette President Michael Lovell suspended McAdams indefinitely without pay unless he issued a written apology for his behavior – effectively firing him.

More information about the case is available here. ###

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