Evie Fordham, DCNF
The Wisconsin Supreme Court ordered Marquette University to “immediately reinstate” political science professor John McAdams on Friday after a four-year legal battle over McAdams’ criticism of a graduate student teacher on his conservative blog.
McAdams refused to apologize for the blog post and was suspended from teaching at the Jesuit university without pay. He will be awarded damages and back pay by the Milwaukee County Circuit Court according to the state supreme court’s ruling, reported the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel.
“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,” stated Justice Daniel Kelly in the majority opinion.
McAdams wrote a blog post criticizing former grad student instructor Cheryl Abbate on his self-described “independent” and “skeptical” campus news blog The Marquette Warrior in November 2014. The professor wrote the post after student complained to him that Abbate had told a him to drop her philosophy class after refusing to let him discuss his views on gay marriage in class.
McAdams linked Abbate’s contact information in the post, and she received “dozens” of emails that she said made her feel unsafe, reported the Journal Sentinel.
To examine whether McAdams had violated his contract’s professional code of conduct, Marquette assembled a committee of his peers who concluded that the professor had to be suspended.
After seven semesters without pay, McAdams can once again teach at Marquette.
“Make no mistake about it, this is a major day for freedom,” said McAdams’ lawyer Rick Esenberg, reported the Journal Sentinel. “It is our sincere hope that Marquette University appreciates and learns from this episode and takes care to guard free speech on campus.”
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