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Marquette professor John McAdams prevails in the case of academic freedom

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The Supreme Court of Wisconsin ruled on Friday that the professor of political science at Marquette University, John McAdams, was improperly suspended after he publicly criticized a graduate student by name on his politically conservative blog, which generated threats against her.

In a 4-2 ruling, the conservative court ordered the Jesuit university to immediately reinstate McAdams and send the case to a judge of the Court of Justice. Milwaukee County Circuit to grant you damages, including "rank, tenure, compensation and benefits intact." "

McAdams, 72, has been suspended without pay for the past seven semesters.


"The indisputable facts show that the University violated its contract with Dr. McAdams when it suspended him for participating in an activity protected by the contractual guarantee of academic freedom," said the majority opinion written by Judge Daniel Kelly.

In a dissenting opinion, Judge Ann Walsh Bradley said that the majority erred "by conducting only half of the analysis of academic freedom. "

"He does not recognize, let alone analyze, Marquette's academic freedom as a private, Catholic and Jesuit university," Bradley wrote. "As a result, it dilutes the autonomy of a private educational institution to make its own academic decisions in fulfillment of its unique mission."

Bradley concluded: "Apparently, most think they are in a better position to address the concerns of academic freedom than a group of incumbent professors who live the doctrine all the days. "

She was referring to a seven-member hearing committee that considered the case and decided unanimously that McAdams should be suspended for unprofessional conduct.


Bradley joined his dissident opinion by Judge Shirley Abrahamson. The case was decided by six judges. Judge Annette Ziegler did not participate.

The case could set precedents for academic freedom and protection of freedom of expression in a at a time when universities are hotbeds of political turmoil.

It has become a cause celebre among those who believe that liberal arts universities are liberal bastions that suppress conservative views.

The publication of McAdams in November 2014 on his blog Marquette Warrior came to the hot topic of marriage between persons of the same sex, and if Cheryl Abbate, instructor of graduate students limited the ability of a student to speak against in class.

McAdams said it was important to call the "bad behavior" of the graduate student in her role as an instructor.

"It is absurd that when misconduct is found in a bureaucracy, it can not be made public," the professor told the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel on Friday. "Fighting a battle against bureaucracy is often far less effective than bringing sunlight to the situation"

McAdams argued that the court case it was so much a student who was not allowed to express his point of view in a classroom, in this case, an opinion contrary to homosexual marriage that is consistent with the doctrine of the Catholic Church.

"Make no mistake about it, this is an important day for freedom," said McAdams attorney Rick Esenberg of the conservative Wisconsin Institute for Law and Liberty.

"We sincerely hope that Marquette University will appreciate and learn from this episode and take care to protect freedom of expression on campus," said Esenberg.

Marquette is outstanding for shares

Marquette issued a statement continuing to defend its shares .

"At Marquette University, we are proud that we have taken a stand for our students, our values ​​and our Catholic and Jesuit mission," he said.

"Marquette will comply with the terms of this decision and does not change the commitment of the university to the safety and well-being of our students"

The statement concluded:

"This case has always been about the behavior of the associate professor John McAdams to a student teacher The teacher used his personal blog to mock a student teacher, intentionally exposing his name and contact information to a hostile audience that sent him vile and threatening messages. "

Twitter response within the academy was quick.

"For academics, this is a worrying case with a good result," tweeted the public affairs professor at the University of Wisconsin-Madison, Don Moynihan.

"McAdams behaved unprofessionally toward a graduate student, but a conservative plaintiff made it more likely that the Wisconsin Supreme Court would promote academic freedom."

Although Moynihan told the Journal Sentinel that whenever academic freedom prevails, he finds it "unpleasant" that McAdams "is not willing to acknowledge this kind of public comment on a campus that has possible consequences for the personal safety of people."

Rights and responsibilities must be balanced, he said. "As employees, we should also think daily about what our responsibilities are for our students and the faculty that surrounds us."

Moynihan, who is leaving UW-Madison for a job at Georgetown University, has written extensively on academic freedom and freedom of expression, including an opinion piece on The New York Times.

McAdams was in the east side office of his lawyer in Milwaukee when the court's opinion was released Friday morning. He spent much of the day there, doing interviews in the media.

From the beginning, all McAdams wanted to do was teach students "without having to compromise their principles," Esenberg said. "However, Marquette refused to honor his promises of academic freedom and now, thanks to the Supreme Court, he can re-teach."

The president of Marquette University, Michael Lovell, had wanted McAdams to apologize to Abbate and promise not to engage in similar behavior before McAdams could return to campus.

Friday's ruling seems to make that claim moot.

McAdams told the Journal Sentinel that he probably will not return to the classroom this fall because class schedules are already established. But he said he plans to teach for as long as his health allows. He has been teaching at Marquette since 1977.

McAdams was encouraged when he spoke about why he likes to teach.

"I like to talk," he said. "I like the exchange with students, I am a depraved temper, so I enjoy discrediting common notions, encouraging students to think about ideals and ideas that are important, and to think about broader concepts."

McAdams said he is working on a book titled: "Sixty politically incorrect things what you should know. " The second part of the title, after two points, will be "Your teacher will not tell you or conventional means will not tell you," he said.

He is not planning a book about his court battle with Marquette, he said. But he left no doubt that he would continue to express opinions on his blog.

McAdams and the university agreed that the teacher's employment contract was fundamental to the case.

The professor argued that his contract promised academic freedom and protection of freedom of expression, while Marquette focused on the professional standards of contract conduct and the disciplinary process that involves a peer committee.

Wisconsin Manufacturers and Commerce, which has strongly supported the election of conservative candidates for the state Supreme Court, sided with Marquette in a report "Friend of the court ", as well as national business groups. They supported the right of the private university to discipline employees according to the provisions of their employment contract.

RELATED: In the hearing of McAdams vs. Marquette, the judges focus on the rights of expression for teachers

The Association of Independent Colleges and Universities of Wisconsin, which also submitted a brief of "friend of the court" in support of the independence of the Marquette government, issued a statement after the court's ruling.


La declaración decía que los colegios y universidades podrían revisar la decisión del tribunal "por su posible impacto en el gobierno compartido y las políticas de empleo".


El fallo del tribunal inferior


El juez de circuito del condado de Milwaukee David Hansher dictaminó en mayo de 2016 que Marquette tenía el derecho legal de suspender McAdams sin sueldo.


Hansher dijo que el profesor estaba prohibido por estándares profesionales de llamar la atención pública negativa hacia un estudiante.


Hansher desestimó las seis demandas de McAdams contra Marquette por su suspensión y lo reprendió en un fallo de 33 páginas con una recitación de lo que es la libertad académica, y no lo es. La libertad académica, escribió Hansher, "no significa que un miembro de la facultad pueda hostigar, amenazar, intimidar o ridiculizar".


McAdams sostiene que los correos electrónicos "poco amables" que recibió el instructor de posgrado cuando llamó la atención sobre su conducta fueron el resultado de otros medios que escribieron al respecto; no su publicación de blog original.


Ella dejó la universidad para terminar sus estudios en Colorado.


RELACIONADO: El juez respalda la suspensión de la Universidad de Marquette del profesor John McAdams en una publicación de blog


Al apelar la decisión de Hansher, McAdams pasó por alto el Tribunal de Apelaciones de Wisconsin y apeló directamente ante el Tribunal Supremo del estado.


Muchos conservadores sostienen que las universidades deberían tener más libertad para despedir a profesores titulares, pero este caso se desarrolló de manera diferente.


El caso McAdams favorece las protecciones laborales porque los conservadores creen que sus puntos de vista están siendo sofocados en los campus universitarios.

Peers citó un patrón de agitación

Mientras McAdams aisló la publicación de blog de Abbate en el debate sobre su suspensión, Marquette se centró en lo que consideraba un patrón de comportamiento de intimidación, con el incidente de Abbate siendo la piedra angular.

Un comité de la facultad de Marquette que revisó la suspensión de McAdams como parte del proceso disciplinario descrito en su contrato de empleo publicó un informe de 123 páginas que describió una historia de confusión en torno a McAdams dentro del departamento de ciencias políticas.

El informe incluía acusaciones de que el profesor utilizó su blog para intimidar a sus colegas al amenazar con escribir sobre ellos. El comité concluyó que el comportamiento de McAdams justificaba una suspensión no pagada de no más de dos semestres.

McAdams argumentó que el comité era parcial en su contra porque se le permitió a un miembro de la facultad permanecer en el comité después de firmar una petición que apoyaba a Abbate y criticaba la publicación de blog de McAdams.

RELACIONADO: El informe MU sugiere un patrón de comportamiento de intimidación por parte de McAdams suspendidos

La opinión de la mayoría de la Corte Suprema del estado no dio peso a la decisión del comité de audiencias de la facultad.

La opinión dijo que una "revisión exhaustiva de los Estatutos de la Facultad no revela ninguna indicación de que la Universidad y el Dr. McAdams acordaran que el Procedimiento Disciplinario suplantaría a los tribunales o limitaría su revisión de una disputa contractual".

Kelly dijo que la corte difiere las decisiones de arbitraje "porque son resoluciones autorizadas de las disputas que abordan".

Pero el Procedimiento de Disciplina de la universidad produjo "consejos, no una decisión", escribió. "No nos remitimos a los consejos"

Cuando la corte más alta del estado accedió a escuchar el caso, Lovell le dijo al Journal Sentinel que la universidad hizo lo correcto, independientemente del resultado.

La universidad dice que, en última instancia, quiere garantizar "a quienes invierte con la responsabilidad y el privilegio de enseñar a sus alumnos a respetar sus principios rectores"


El abogado de Marquette, Ralph Weber, se refirió a la publicación de blog de McAdams como ciberacoso y "doxing", generando intencionalmente hostilidad. Dijo que la publicación proporcionaba la información necesaria para que los lectores tomaran medidas contra el ex docente estudiante graduado.

"Un miembro de la facultad titular puso el nombre de un estudiante de posgrado y un enlace a su información de contacto en Internet para que la gente pudiera ir tras ella, eso no es libertad académica, es ciberacoso", dijo Weber.

La Fundación para los Derechos Individuales en la Educación elogió la decisión como "una victoria para la libertad académica".

Marquette cometió un error al disciplinar a McAdams "simplemente por criticar a un instructor de posgrado que decidió unilateralmente que un asunto de interés público ya no era tema de debate para los estudiantes", dice la declaración.

"Esta regla demuestra con razón que cuando una universidad promete libertad académica, debe cumplir".



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