Following up on my previous posts (links below) about Teresa Wagner's federal lawsuit claiming she was denied a faculty position because of her conservative views: Wall Street Journal op-ed: A Case of Faculty Discrimination Based on Politics, by Peter Berkowitz (Stanford University, Hoover Institution):
On Feb. 13 in St. Paul, Minn., the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals will hear arguments in Wagner v. Jones. The appeal is procedurally complex. But the legal question at the heart of the original case has potentially far-reaching implications for public and private legal education. To wit, whether a candidate for a faculty position at a state law school could provide sufficient evidence that, in violation of her constitutional rights, she had been denied employment because of her political beliefs.
In a trial concluded 15 months ago, Teresa Wagner accused the University of Iowa College of Law of violating her First Amendment right of free expression and 14th Amendment right of equal protection under the law when the school's dean, Carolyn Jones, refused to hire her for its legal analysis, writing and research program. ...
Teresa Wagner is a pro-life conservative. Her résumé showed prior employment with the National Right to Life Committee and the Family Research Council, both socially conservative organizations in Washington, D.C.
The University of Iowa's law-school faculty, like most law-school faculties, is overwhelmingly liberal. When Ms. Wagner was considered for the job, the law school had only one Republican on its 50-member faculty, according to party registration records obtained from the Iowa Secretary of State, and he had joined the faculty 25 years earlier.
In deciding whether to hire Ms. Wagner, neither her politics nor those of the law school's faculty should have been relevant. Yet the day after the law-school faculty voted to reject Ms. Wagner, in January 2007, Associate Dean Jon Carlson wrote to Dean Jones in an email, "Frankly, one thing that worries me is that some people may be opposed to Teresa serving any role, in part at least because they so despise her politics (and especially her activism about it). ... Other than by looking to politics, it is difficult to explain the law school's efforts to avoid hiring Ms. Wagner. ...
Hiring decisions should be based on candidates' merits, including their ability to vigorously present in the classroom and criticize conservative as well as progressive views. If the Eighth Circuit protects Teresa Wagner's constitutional rights, the court will also bolster legal education in America by promoting its depoliticization.
Prior TaxProf Blog coverage:
- Unsuccessful Iowa Legal Writing Faculty Candidate Sues, Claiming Discrimination Due to Her Conservative Views (Jan. 29, 2009)
- Judge Dismisses Claim by Unsuccessful Iowa Legal Writing Faculty Candidate Alleging Discrimination Due to Her Conservative Views (Apr. 2, 2010)
- Unsuccessful Iowa Legal Writing Faculty Candidate Appeals Dismissal of Suit Claiming Discrimination Due to Her Conservative Views (July 13, 2010)
- 8th Circuit Re-institutes Discrimination Lawsuit by Unsuccessful Republican Faculty Candidate Against Iowa Law School Dean (Dec. 29, 2011)
- NY Times on Unsuccessful Republican Law Faculty Candidate's Discrimination Lawsuit Against Iowa (Jan. 10, 2012)
- Federal Trial Begins Today in Unsuccessful Republican Faculty Candidate's Discrimination Complaint Against Iowa Law School (Oct. 15, 2012)
- Iowa Law Prof: School Retaliated Against Me for Testifying That Liberal Bias 'Corrupts Everything School Touches' (Oct. 19, 2012)
- Jury Splits in Conservative Faculty Candidate's Hiring Bias Suit Against Iowa Law School (Oct. 25, 2012)
- Jurors Agree: University of Iowa Law School Discriminated Against Faculty Applicant Due to Her Conservative Views (Nov. 24, 2012)
- District Judge Dismisses Conservative Faculty Candidate's Motion for New Trial in Bias Suit Against Iowa Law School (Mar. 11, 2013)