Lawsuit Pits Political Activism Against Campus Diversity

Adam Liptak, New York Times, January 9, 2012

Teresa R. Wagner is a conservative Republican who wants to teach law. Her politics may have hurt her career.

An official of the University of Iowa College of Law, where Ms. Wagner applied for a job in 2006, certainly seemed to think so.

“Frankly, one thing that worries me is that some people may be opposed to Teresa serving in any role, in part at least because they so despise her politics (and especially her activism about it),” Associate Dean Jonathan C. Carlson wrote in 2007 to the law school’s dean, Carolyn Jones.

Ms. Wagner, who graduated from the law school in 1993 and had taught at the George Mason University School of Law, was not hired. She sued, alleging discrimination because of her political beliefs. Late last month, a unanimous three-judge panel of the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit, in St. Louis, ruled that her case should go to trial, saying she had presented enough evidence to suggest that “Dean Jones’s repeated decisions not to hire Wagner were in part motivated by Wagner’s constitutionally protected First Amendment rights of political belief and association.”

Ms. Wagner’s lawyer, Stephen T. Fieweger, said the decision was a victory for an important sort of academic freedom.

“It’s gotten to the point where the law school’s diversity efforts are to eliminate everyone from the mainstream,” he said. “They espouse cultural diversity, but won’t consider the conservative viewpoint.”

According to Ms. Wagner’s lawsuit, the law faculty at Iowa in 2007 included a single registered Republican among its 50 or so members. The Republican professor was appointed in 1984. In 2009, The Des Moines Register found that there were two registered Republicans on the faculty.


“My client is an ideologue,” Mr. Fieweger said. “She does believe in conservative values.” Ms. Wagner has worked for the National Right to Life Committee, which opposes abortion and euthanasia, and the Family Research Council, which takes conservative positions on social issues.


A study published in The Georgetown Law Journal in 2005 analyzed 11 years of federal campaign contributions by professors at the top 21 law schools as ranked by U.S. News & World Report. Almost a third of these law professors contributed to campaigns. Of those who gave $200 or more, the study found, 81 percent gave wholly or mostly to Democrats, while 15 percent gave wholly or mostly to Republicans.

The percentages of professors contributing to Democrats were even more lopsided at some of the most prestigious schools: 91 percent at Harvard, 92 at Yale, 94 at Stanford. {snip}


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  • Anonymous

    Discrimination is not necessarily a BAD thing.  Everyone discriminates in their daily lives.  For example, I would not consider dating a black woman.  I would not hire someone who was not capable of doing the job in question, black/white/Asian/etc.

    This is the essence of a PRIVATE contract between two individuals.  She is not entitled to the job.  It is the personal choice of both sides to enter into the contract.

    These discrimination laws often serve as a tool for the government to get its tentacles and sticky fingers into everyone’s daily lives. Whites RARELY benefit from them. Indeed, they were meant to operate for blacks at the expense of whites.

    • Anonymous

      In a perfect world you are absolutely right. The problem is, of course, the flagrant double-standards at work here with regard to which types of discrimination are allowed and which are hysterically denounced and legally for bidden!

    • Its to the point where you cant discriminate against someone for being stupid. Eric give guns for felons Holder doesn’t want companies to be able to not hire felons due to how many blacks are felons

    • Anonymous

      This is the essence of a PRIVATE contract between two individuals. She is not entitled to the job.

      It’s not a private contract in this case; it doesn’t involve two individuals. One party is the State of Iowa.

      • Anonymous

        Exactly.  Once the government is removed from education, I’m all for people being not hired for whatever reason.

  • Anonymous

    universities are leftist/Marxist  breeding grounds, I strongly disagreed with some of the things taught to me but disagreeing with lecturer would have meant I failed my course. You have to just tow the line till you get qualified.

  • Conservatives are just going to have to do what the liberals did: take over university departments bit by bit, keeping out the left wingers, unless they have integrity.   Also, conservatives should start making their own universities, like Hillsdale College in Michigan. 

  • Anonymous

    So it’s simply ‘political activism vs the quest for diversity’? Two competing values?

    It’s more of a problem that they are opposed to a White viewpoint. How can the college promote an  explicitely racial viewpoint and racial consciousness for all groups on campus except for white students? Some things are a matter of right and wrong and the entire campus has things wrong. 

  • John Maddox

    The key here is her stance on abortion rights. She edited a book of  pro life essays titled ‘ Back to the Drawing Board’ featuring writers such as Charles Dobson.

    Law schools are ivory towers populated by academics who spend their careers making logical arguments for illogical concepts. Anyone who has tried to read and understand a Supreme court or lower court decision will know what I mean. In a modern law school setting a pro lifer with a conservative, traditional, and practical understanding of life beginning at conception and sacred until God calls us home, would be like a Sunday school teacher presenting a course in sexual ethics and morality to a group of hedonists at a pagan gathering.

  • Anonymous

    She will eventually get a law school position.