Academic freedom and economic liberty to get their day in Court
April 19, 2018 – Milwaukee, WI – Today, in one of the biggest days for the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg will argue two cases before the Wisconsin Supreme Court, E. Glenn Porter, III v. State of Wisconsin at 9:45 AM, and John McAdams v. Marquette University at 1:45 PM. Both oral arguments will be streamed live on WisconsinEye here.
Porter is a case about economic freedom, challenging one of Wisconsin’s worst protectionist laws, propped up by special interests. Wisconsin law prohibits owners of cemeteries from owning and operating a funeral home and even goes so far as to prohibit cemetery owners from allowing an independently operated funeral home to be located on cemetery property. On behalf of E. Glenn Porter, owner of Highland Memorial Park, a cemetery in New Berlin, WILL filed a lawsuit in Waukesha County against the State of Wisconsin, the Secretary of the Department of Safety and Professional Services, and the Wisconsin Funeral Directors Examining Board. The lawsuit asks the court to declare Wisconsin’s overly restrictive laws unconstitutional. Read more about the case here in the Weekly Standard.
McAdams vs. Marquette is the most watched academic freedom case in the country. Professor John McAdams, a tenured political science professor, was fired by Marquette University in 2016, two years after he wrote a blog post that accurately described an interaction between a student and graduate instructor. The graduate instructor, Cheryl Abbate, told the student in 2014 that he could not oppose same-sex marriage in a classroom discussion because it was “offensive” and “homophobic.” McAdams was fired after a pro forma faculty review hearing recommended a suspension for two semesters without pay. Marquette University President Michael Lovell made McAdams’s return conditional on an apology. McAdams refused and WILL sued Marquette on his behalf in 2016 arguing the university broke its contractual guarantee of academic freedom and free speech protected under the U.S. Constitution. The case has garnered significant media attention – including numerous Wall Street Journal articles.
WILL President and General Counsel Rick Esenberg said,
“WILL is taking two of the most consequential cases in Wisconsin before the state supreme court Thursday. These cases are representative of the principles and values that WILL fights for on a daily basis. A victory for Mr. Porter would expand economic liberty and the right to earn a living free from arcane government rules. A victory for Mr. McAdams would serve as a bulwark for academic freedom, a principle under siege on college campuses across the country.”