Conservative legal scholar Teresa Wagner will go to trial against the University of Iowa law school on Monday, alleging the school discriminated against her and blocked her appointment because she was a conservative who was pro-life, pro-traditional marriage, and anti-euthanasia.
According to the Christian Science Monitor, Wagner — in a federal trial in Davenport, Iowa — will allege law professor Randall Bezanson — who also happens to be a free speech scholar — led the opposition against her because of Wagner’s conservative views. Forty-six of the 50 faculty members who considered her appointment were Democrats. Wagner has spent her career fighting the Roe decision that determined abortion was a fundamental right in the Constitution. Bezanson, who led the opposition against her, used to clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun, the Justice who wrote the majority opinion in Roe v. Wade. Blackmun championed the ruling throughout his career and in the latter stages of his life.
According to the Monitor, Wagner “will offer as evidence an e-mail from a school official who backed her candidacy warning the dean that some opposed her “because they so despise her politics (and especially her activism about it).”
Wagner had worked at conservative Washington, D.C. institutions like the Family Research Council and the National Right to Life Committee in Washington before moving back to Iowa in 2006 “with her husband and four children to raise their family.”
Wagner interviewed for one of two open positions at the law school in 2007 and though she had “taught writing at George Mason law school in Virginia and an ethics class at Notre Dame,” one job went to someone who did not have teaching experience and the other position was not filled.
Wagner once turned down a job at the conservative Ave Maria Law School, and she will claim “an associate Dean told her to conceal her connection to Ave Maria during the interview because it would be viewed negatively.”
“This will put a spotlight on a terrible injustice that is being perpetrated throughout American higher education,” Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, told the Christian Science Montior. “What makes Teresa Wagner’s case so extraordinary is she came up with the documentary evidence of what was really going on.”
The Monitor notes the law school will claim Wagner botched an interview question, and Bezanson has claimed he “picked up someone saying she was conservative” during discussions about Wagner but “denied that was the driving factor in his opposition.”
In an interview with Fox News in April, Wagner said that there was a “Republicans need not apply” mentality throughout academia, where liberals aim first and foremost to protect their turf and keep intellectual diversity to a minimum.