The Wisconsin Supreme Court has ruled that Jesuit Marquette University must immediately reinstate a professor who was fired for criticizing a teaching assistant who barred a student from speaking against gay marriage.
Tenured political science professor John McAdams had his academic freedom violated when he was punished for publishing a blog post critical of teaching assistant Cheryl Abbate in 2014, the court ruled Friday.
The blog post was in response to Abbate preventing a student from discussing his opposition to gay marriage in her “Theory of Ethics” class on grounds that opposition to LGBT rights is considered offensive and not tolerated in her class.
“The undisputed facts show that the university breached its contract with Dr. McAdams when it suspended him for engaging in activity protected by the contract’s guarantee of academic freedom,” Justice Daniel Kelly wrote in the court opinion.
The justices’ opinions came down on ideological lines, with the conservative majority siding with McAdams. The majority ruled that the faculty panel responsible for recommending the discipline against McAdams had “unacceptable bias.”
Although the court ordered the Catholic school to reinstate McAdams “with unimpaired rank, tenure, compensation and benefits,” it remanded his case back to the lower court to determine the damages the school will have to award McAdams and his legal team at the Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty. Because of the university’s action, McAdams has not taught a class there for the past seven semesters.
The school initially argued that it took the action against McAdams not because of his criticism of the action but claimed that he violated a harassment policy by specifically naming Abbate in his blog post.
In a statement following the ruling, the school doubled down on that argument.
“This case has always been about associate professor John McAdams’ conduct toward a student teacher,” a statement from the university reads. “The professor used his personal blog to mock a student teacher, intentionally exposing her name and contact information to a hostile audience that sent her vile and threatening messages.”
The school stated that after the blog post, Abbate left the university and caused a “significant setback to her academic career and personal well-being.”
“To us, it was always clear that the professor’s behavior crossed the line,” the statement added. “This was affirmed by a seven-member panel of the professor’s peers, and by a Wisconsin Circuit Court judge. However, in light of today’s decision, Marquette will work with its faculty to re-examine its policies, with the goal of providing every assurance possible that this never happens again.”
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Source: Christian Post