By Stephen Smoot
Jury deliberations have begun in a landmark case about
Teresa Wagner alleges that the University of Iowa College of Law
refused to hire her because it knew of her conservative
beliefs. The university fired back, alleging that she
Wagner has produced evidence to back her
claim. According to CNN contributor Will Kain:
Wagner's evidence includes e-mails from the law school's
associate dean, warning her to hide a job offer from Ave Maria
School of Law, which is perceived to be conservative. During the
faculty meeting to vote on whether Wagner should be hired, it was
mentioned that she holds conservative beliefs. And after her
rejection, the same associate dean sent an e-mail to the dean,
asking whether Wagner's political beliefs had been considered in
The school at the time advertised for two positions. Wagner and
one other instructor applied. He was hired and the
university stated that it no longer wished to fill the other
position. Wagner had produced professional publications,
prior teaching experience, and positive evaluations as part of her
The U.S. Supreme Court has ruled, with some exceptions, that
states cannot use ideology as a test for hiring. This
does exclude political appointees by the chief executive, for
instance. But not a college.
A 2005 study shows the seriousness of the problem. In
"Politics and Professional Advancement Among College Faculty,"
Stanley Rothman found that nearly 75 percent of American college
faculty were liberal.
Even worse, Rothman and his researchers concluded that
conservatives of equal professional accomplishment with their
liberal peers ended up at colleges of lower regard. They
said that "complaints of ideologically based discrimination in
academic advancement deserve some consideration and further
Also, women and devout Christians faced the same level of
discrimination on these liberal dominated campuses.
Teresa Wagner, a woman who is a conservative and a practicing
Christian, should soon hear the verdict in her discrimination
case. Most have already judged higher education guilty
Stephen Smoot is the Director for Academic Programs for the National Journalism Center.