Very good article on discrimination in academia against social conservatives.
– The Washington Times – Monday, March 23, 2015
First the case of: Teresa Wagner
Teresa Wagner recently notched a victory at the U.S. Supreme Court, but she can be forgiven if she doesn’t exactly feel like a winner.
Her lawsuit against the University of Iowa College of Law, in which she accuses the school of denying her a promotion over her conservative beliefs, has dragged on for six years. The case has taken a toll on her family and her finances, and she is running out of money to pay her legal bills.
Ms. Wagner is still working at the university, although no longer as a part-time legal writing instructor. In November, she was reassigned to the library after she told university officials that she found a supervisor rummaging through her backpack.
“She’s working in a stack of books in the main library basically, with no interaction with people at all,” said her attorney, Stephen Fieweger.
The Supreme Court’s March 9 refusal to hear the university’s appeal ensures Ms. Wagner a new trial after the first one, in 2012, ended in a hung jury. Her chances look good, given that jurors from the first trial told The Des Moines Register that they agreed she faced political discrimination but were uncomfortable finding a former dean personally responsible.
Still, even if Ms. Wagner prevails at trial and conservatives win the battle, there is little doubt they are losing the war. Those in the trenches say the assault on conservative ideas in higher education continues despite high-profile legal victories by academics over viewpoint bias.
Ms. Wagner was easily identified as a conservative, having worked for the National Right to Life Committee and the Family Research Council. When she filed her lawsuit against the University of Iowa in 2009, only one of the 50 faculty members at the law school was a Republican.
She said she was rejected for a full-time post as a writing instructor in 2007 even though her credentials — she had worked as a trial lawyer and as an instructor at George Mason University law school — were clearly superior to those of the relatively inexperienced recent law school graduate who was hired instead.
A faculty review committee had given her a “very enthusiastic” recommendation, but the faculty voted against hiring her. Ms. Wagner later learned that the opposition was led by law professor Randall Bezanson, who was known for his articles “advocating a pro-choice viewpoint on abortion,” according to her lawsuit.
An associate dean, Jonathan Carlson, wrote an email to Dean Carolyn Jones before the vote expressing concern that the faculty would oppose her “because they so despise her politics.”
Attorneys for the university argue that she made blunders during the job interview, although the videotape of the interview has been destroyed. Over the next two years, she was rejected three times for a position as an adjunct professor.
“I will say that everyone in that jury room believed that she had been discriminated against,” Carol Tracy, the jury forewoman, told The Des Moines Register after the first trial in November 2012.
Ms. Wagner expects to release a book this year describing her experience as the plaintiff in Wagner v. Jones, which she said deals in part with “what a hardship this can be when you encounter employment discrimination based on your moral convictions.”
“The first [aspect is] the personal story is what happened to me, my kids and my family,” she said in a radio interview last week with Family Research Council President Tony Perkins. “The second aspect is the exposure of illegal wrongdoing not just in higher education but in legal education, and the irony in that. These are the very people who are entrusted to teach the First Amendment, and yet they are violating it.”
Despite the trial’s personal and professional cost, she said, she is determined to go forward, in large part because of her children. “Unfortunately, we’re seeing much, much more of this, and I think that means we might be obligated to stand up to it because a factor in my decision to file a complaint was my children,” Ms. Wagner said. “If I encounter this type of discrimination, I can hardly complain if they do if when I encountered it, I gave it a pass. This type of practice tends to just get worse if people get away with it in the first instance, and we have to think about the future of this country and about our own children.”
Mr. French scored an enormous win a year ago in his defense of Mike Adams, the conservative sociology professor who was awarded a promotion, a raise, $50,000 in back pay and $710,000 in legal fees in his seven-year fight against the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.
“For me personally, yeah, the costs were certainly very great, and it was obviously very stressful and my hair turned gray and all,” Mr. Adams said. “But the fact of the matter is when you’re doing it, you don’t know that. So you’re actually making a series of decisions. And so when people thank me for what I did with my case, I sometimes explain to them that it really wasn’t as difficult as it seemed from the outside because we were actually just making a series of decisions.”
Would he do it again? Of course, he said, but taking universities to court isn’t enough. He said conservatives need to make “a bigger play” by founding and taking back institutions of higher education from the dominant liberal culture. …
“We need our own universities because the fact of the matter is we’re battling against extinction.”
Schools where conservative thought flourishes include Chapman College in California, Colorado Christian University, Gordon College in Massachusetts, Grove City College in Pennsylvania, Hillsdale College in Michigan and Wheaton College in Illinois, but they’re badly outnumbered, Mr. Adams said. … The ultimate solution lies in changing the culture, he said.
… In the meantime, he said, the legal challenges play vital roles.
“It only takes a few incidents to send a message to professors to watch what they say. What we’re trying to do with the litigation is send a message back to universities: Watch who you fire,” Mr. French said.