Law prof denied job because of pro-life, pro-family activism: lawsuit
DAVENPORT, Iowa, October 15, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Being pro-life and supporting traditional marriage could cost you a tenured position at a public law school, according to a lawsuit filed in Iowa.
Teresa Wagner has sued the University of Iowa, saying the law school has denied her two positions over the last five years because of her work in the National Right to Life Committee and the Family Research Center. The trial got underway in Davenport today.
Wagner graduated from the University of Iowa Law School in 1993 and has since returned to Iowa City to teach part-time at her alma mater. She has also taught at George Mason University and Notre Dame.
In 2002, she declined a job at Ave Maria University.
Wagner says colleagues told her to cover up her connection to the Florida-based Catholic university. In an e-mail, a friend warned her she would never be considered for a tenured position, “because they so despise her politics (and especially her activism about it).”
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In 2007, she interviewed for open jobs at the University of Iowa. Despite a sterling record and rave reviews from students and faculty, she did not get either position. Instead, one went to a professor with no teaching experience. Another remained open.
According to court documents, her greatest antagonist has been Professor Randall Bezanson, who clerked for Supreme Court Justice Harry Blackmun, the man who authored the Roe v. Wade opinion.
Wagner has said the law school may as well have a sign that reads, “Republicans need not apply.”
“Universities can certainly be ideologically monolithic in many ways,” Robert Shibley, senior vice president of the nation’s foremost academic watchdog organization, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE), told LifeSiteNews.com.
“Many times professors who say things that are unpopular with administrators do find their jobs threatened or in other ways are marginalized by university administrations,” he added.
In its defense, the university claims it passed over Wagner because she refused to teach a course required as part of the job description.
Walter Olson of the Cato Institute said he cannot think of any professor who openly opposed abortion-on-demand who successfully received tenure in a secular college or university.
Yet Professor Bezanson denied that Wagner will be able to prove viewpoint discrimination.
“‘However anybody voted, nobody is ever stupid enough to say anything about that in a faculty meeting,” he said in a deposition.