WILL Press Release | Professor John McAdams Sues Marquette University

Suspended tenured professor will not apologize; alleges free speech, academic freedom violated by Marquette University

May 2, 2016 – Milwaukee, WI – Today, Marquette University Professor John McAdams and the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty have filed suit in Milwaukee County Circuit Court against Marquette University for illegally suspending Professor McAdams in the fall of 2014 and making the decision to terminate his tenure and fire him from Marquette.

Marquette University guarantees its tenured faculty academic freedoms, including the right to free speech. That right was violated when Marquette suspended Professor McAdams for blogging about an incident between an undergraduate student and a graduate instructor where the Instructor told the student that any discussion on gay marriage in an ethics course would be considered homophobic and inappropriate.

Background on the incident is available here.

In February Marquette University President Michael Lovell announced that he would follow the recommendation of Marquette’s Faculty Hearing Committee and suspend McAdams without pay through January 2017, yet adding the requirement that McAdams apologize in order to be reinstated.

Professor McAdams will not apologize because he has done nothing wrong.

He has repeatedly denounced the negative remarks towards the Instructor that have been made on social media and elsewhere, but he did nothing other than accurately blog about what the Instructor said and how Marquette failed to react.

WILL President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg in announcing the lawsuit against Marquette noted that, “For blogging and defending an undergraduate student, Professor McAdams is being suspended. But it is worse than that. He is being told that he will be fired unless, in the manner of a Soviet show trial, he confesses guilt and admits that his conduct was “reckless.””

Esenberg continued, “Professor McAdams will not do that. He wrote an accurate blog post about an issue – the treatment of certain points of view as offensive or beyond the pale.  The issue is one of great public interest. The university has said that it welcomes debate and self-criticism. That is precisely what Professor McAdams was engaged in.”

Professor McAdams said, “I have spent nearly my entire career at Marquette University. I am proud to be part of the Marquette community and I have used my voice to both defend and criticize the university to ensure it holds to its Catholic traditions.”

Professor McAdams also stated that, “I think the most overlooked aspect of this matter is that no one in the Marquette Administration has taken seriously the complaint of the undergraduate student who was silenced by the Instructor.  I’m saddened that Marquette’s treatment of the undergraduate student at the center of this controversy failed to adhere to its guiding principle of Cura Personalis.”

A copy of the complaint is available here.



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