Marquette Warrior: Setback: Judge Rules Against Warrior Blogger in Academic Freedom Case

Thursday, May 04, 2017

Setback: Judge Rules Against Warrior Blogger in Academic Freedom Case


May 4, 2017 – Milwaukee, WI – In a 33-page ruling today, Milwaukee County Circuit Court Judge David Hansher found that Marquette University had the legal right to terminate tenured political science professor, Dr. John McAdams. The judge treated the Marquette committee that sat in judgment of McAdams as the equivalent of a neutral, third-party arbitrator, adopting its reasoning and conclusions wholesale. McAdams has already vowed to appeal the ruling.

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 a lot of bad press for Marquette.

In response, Marquette summarily suspended McAdams from his teaching duties and banned him from campus, then initiated 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.

Judge Hansher adopted the FHC’s cramped and unsupported view of academic freedom and the First Amendment. He concluded that because naming Abbate could conceivably bring negative attention to her, McAdams was prohibited from doing so.

“No college professor in Wisconsin has any real protection if that’s the standard,” explained Rick Esenberg, President and General Counsel of WILL. “If a professor can be held responsible for the actions of every person who reads or even hears about what the professor writes, then they have no protections at all. By that standard, every professor who was publicly critical of McAdams should be fired too.”

Tom Kamenick, Deputy Counsel at WILL, sharply criticized the court’s decision to defer to Marquette’s own internal committee: “When two parties to a contract disagree about its application, courts cannot simply let one side decide how to interpret it. That’s like saying an employee who brings a sexual harassment complaint against another employee has to abide by the employer’s internal review that finds no wrong-doing occurred.”

The court also found no problem with Marquette allowing a clearly-biased member to sit on the FHC. Professor Lynn Turner signed an open letter shortly after the controversy broke out condemning McAdams and concluding he had violated his professional responsibilities. McAdams asked that she be removed, but the FHC refused. The court decided that as long as the FHC had considered the request, that was good enough – it didn’t matter how biased she was.

“This is another example of the increasing unwillingness of colleges to stand up for free speech. Hardly a day passes without an example of a speaker being shouted down, or disinvited, or a student being punished for some innocuous (but politically incorrect) comment on social media,” commented Dr. McAdams.

“This is just another step in a long process,” said Esenberg. “As Ronald Reagan said, ‘Freedom is never more than one generation from extinction. We didn’t pass it to our children in the bloodstream. It must be fought for, protected, and handed on for them to do the same.’ We will take this case as far as it needs to be taken to vindicate McAdams’ – and all professors’ – rights to freedom of speech and academic freedom.”

Background on the case can be found here.

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Blogger James Pawlak said...

My immediate reaction to this post was to send a contribution to your protecting friends.

4:29 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

A contribution to the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty would be money well spent for liberty minded people.

9:01 PM  
Blogger Frank said...

Sorry, but you transcended the bounds of academic free speech (see the AAUP 1940 statement on academic freedom) by inviting harassment of a student. You had every reason to expect that to happen, given the people who constitute your fan club. If it wasn't malicious it was incompetent. In either case Marquette prevailed on the merits.

3:13 PM  
Blogger Collin said...

There is no "Law" in this country... at least in the civil arena. It amounts to nothing more than what any politicized judge says it is... on any given day. If anyone doubts me, just ask the President of the United States. In this particular case, it appears that a professor is "tenured"... until he isn't. It further appears that you are entitled to 1st Amendment Free Speech rights... until you aren't.

Further evidence of my position is the dog-and-pony show called the U.S. Supreme Court. Would anyone care to explain why we have "Conservative" v. "liberal" judges...???

3:38 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

@Frank: If I "invited harassment" then any criticism of anybody "invites harassment," and no journalist has any protection.

And what do you mean by "fan club?" It's not the people who read my blog who shut up speech on college campuses, or shout down speakers. It's people like Abbate, or who have Abbate's attitudes toward speech, who do that.

7:32 PM  
Blogger CS said...

Look, we live in the age of Political Correctness. To oppose gay marriage, or even the right to oppose gay marriage, is blasphemy. Consider yourself lucky not to have been consigned to the flames.

1:04 PM  
Blogger John McAdams said...

@Frank: You have no idea that was somebody who read my blog. Were you even aware that dozens of outlets picked up the story, including several leftist outlets, and Fox News? It's not "incompetence" to follow the standard norms of journalism, which are to identify people guilty of misconduct.

Or perhaps you *agree* that opposition to gay marriage should be silenced? Even in a classroom of a supposed "Catholic university?"

1:07 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

Red herring.


2:35 PM  
Blogger BuckeyeCat said...

That's your reply, Frank? In your case, how about ad hominem or straw man for a start? The "fan club" rhetoric doesn't enhance your credibility. Why not read evaluations of the case at sites like The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education? Marquette has damaged its reputation even further, which I hadn't thought possible. It is certainly being "the difference" between campuses that honor free speech and those that indoctrinate.

8:32 AM  
Blogger Unknown said...

I am done with the conciliar church. It won't get a dime of my money anymore. Discouraging parents from sending their children to this school will be my mission.

Sedevacantism is the only thing that makes any sense to me anymore.

10:52 PM  
Blogger CS said...

In Nazi Germany, agents of the ruling party were placed in positions of authority in the Universities and they booted out the Jews and, presumably, anyone else deemed by the authorities to be undesirable.

Today, in American, Britain, and Canada and presumably throughout the rest of the Western world, agents of the globalist Treason Party have been place in positions of authority in the universities and are booting those who adhere to the traditions of free speech and free inquiry.

The rot is presumably being spread throughout the judiciary as well academia and the bureaucracy. With luck, on appeal, Professor McAdams's case will be heard by a judge committed to the rule of law, but it would seem rash to bet on it.

11:11 PM  
Blogger Unknown said...

John McAdams: My name is Frank also. Please don't confuse me with this other 'Frank.' I agree with you that free speech is under attack. BTW for the other Frank---there are libel laws and Supreme Court decisions such as New York Times vs. Sullivan [1964] that set the standard for libel laws. And there is the CLEAR AND PRESENT DANGER doctrine.

9:57 PM  

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