Conservatives Sue for Academic Freedom

, Tony Perkins, 4 Comments

Faith can be an occupational hazard. Just ask Associate Professor Mike Adams. The 21-year teacher of criminology was the perfect candidate for promotion — except for one thing. His faith in Christ. The University of North Carolina Wilmington had hired Adams as an atheist, but his conversion didn’t do much to boost his career. Over time, he started writing columns and doing media appearances from a conservative perspective — infuriating UNCW’s forces of political correctness in the process.

Like most universities, the faculty was a fraternity of liberals, who insist on diversity but practice anything but. When Dr. Adams applied for a full professorship, the school turned him down. In 2007, Adams sued the University, arguing that they violated his free speech rights. Seven years and several appeals later, he won. Although UNCW denied that Adams’s faith had any role in their decision — the jury disagreed. “[N]o individual,” the Fourth Circuit had ruled, “loses his ability to speak as a private citizen by virtue of public employment.”

Although the school finally agreed to promote Adams, his attorneys at Alliance Defending Freedom just announced more good news: UNCW will not only be paying him $50,000 in back salary but $615,000 in attorneys’ fees. For liberals, who knows the real chilling effect for conservatives is the cost of litigation, this is a major victory.

And the celebrations don’t stop there. Former FRC policy analyst Teresa Wagner had reason to cheer in her own fight against ideological discrimination. After being turned down for a job at the University of Iowa Law School because of her political views, Wagner sued in 2009. A federal judge dismissed the case after a jury deadlocked—a decision the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals called premature. This week, it agreed to give Teresa a new trial. Let’s hope it’s more impartial than the IU’s hiring policy!

Tony Perkins heads the Family Research Council. This article is excerpted from the Washington Update that he compiles for the FRC.

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