Marquette University: Faculty Member Facing Loss of Tenure for Opinions on Blog

Category: Due Process, Free Speech
Schools: Marquette University

On November 9, 2014, political science professor John McAdams, who has published his personal Marquette Warrior blog since 2002, wrote an entry criticizing the graduate student instructor of a philosophy course. As documented in a recording made by a student in the course, that instructor had stated that it was inappropriate to express opposition to same-sex marriage in class because it might offend others. On December 16, after McAdams’s entry received widespread media exposure, Marquette suspended McAdams, prohibited him from entering campus, and canceled his spring semester classes. Marquette publicly claimed that McAdams was suspended from campus to protect student safety, and blamed McAdams directly for threatening and harassing comments the graduate instructor received from other unknown individuals. FIRE called for McAdams’s reinstatement and criticized Marquette’s violations of McAdams’s rights to free speech, due process, and academic freedom. Despite FIRE’s criticisms, Marquette informed McAdams on January 30, 2015, that it intended to revoke his tenure and permanently remove him from the faculty on the basis of the blog entry and its ensuing controversy. As of May 2, 2016, McAdams has been engaged in a lawsuit against Marquette.

  • McAdams: Conservative students like ‘insurgents’ on campus

    February 27, 2017

    By Anthony Gockowski at Campus Reform Dr. John McAdams, the Marquette University professor suspended for a blog post, encouraged conservative students to be “more willing to speak out” at the 2017 Conservative Political Action Conference (CPAC)… Read more here.

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  • ‘Martyr to political correctness’ John McAdams to receive Academic Freedom award

    February 23, 2017

    By M.D. Kittle at Wisconsin Watchdog Still fighting for his speech and contractual rights two years after Marquette University drove him out of the classroom, Professor John McAdams will receive a top national academic freedom prize Friday at the Conservative Political Action Conference in National Harbor, Maryland… Read more here.

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  • Scariest People of 2016: No. 8-Michael Lovell

    December 27, 2016

    By John Bicknell at Townhall 2016 might go down as one of the most unusual years in the history of American politics. Voters chose historic change, but in all too many ways, it was business as usual… Read more here.

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  • George Orwell Call Your Office: Marquette Demands Ritual Apology From Embattled Professor

    March 29, 2016

    By David French at National Review There’s nothing like a good show trial to build confidence in the academy’s commitment to academic freedom. Marquette University is demanding that embattled professor John McAdams apologize for criticizing a colleague as a condition for keeping his job. And what outrage did McAdams commit? He tried to protect the academic freedom and free speech of conservative students: … Read more here.

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  • Can Opposing Same-Sex Marriage Get You Fired at Marquette University?

    November 13, 2015

    By M.D. Kittle at The Daily Signal MADISON, Wis.—John McAdams remains in professional limbo at his Jesuit school. The long-time Marquette University political science professor at the center of one of the most controversial academic freedom cases in higher education continues to wait for a faculty hearing committee’s decision on his professional fate. Marquette has said it intends to fire McAdams because of his blog post a little over a year ago criticizing a student teacher for prohibiting a philosophy student from sharing his opposition to same-sex marriage in the class. The faculty committee, which held a hearing into the matter in September, has 90 […]

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  • From Marquette to Mizzou, Free Speech is Under Politically Correct Assault

    November 12, 2015

    By M.D. Kittle at Wisconsin Watchdog MADISON, Wisc. — John McAdams remains in professional limbo at his Jesuit school. The long-time Marquette University political science professor at the center of one of the most controversial academic freedom cases in higher education continues to wait for a faculty hearing committee’s decision on his professional fate. Marquette has said it intends to fire McAdams because of his blog post a little over a year ago criticizing a student teacher for prohibiting a philosophy student from sharing his opposition to same-sex marriage in the class. The faculty committee, which held a hearing into the matter in […]

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  • Professor’s Peers are Judging Whether He Should be Fired for Defending a Student Who Opposes Gay Marriage

    September 21, 2015

    By Greg Piper at The College Fix John McAdams, the Marquette University professor whose tenure is being threatened because he criticized a colleague in a blog post for silencing a student’s views against gay marriage, could be one step closer to getting fired today. A committee of his peers will help decide whether his academic freedom is protected or ignored in the interest of protecting people from offense. Watchdog.org reports that the Faculty Hearing Committee, which serves an advisory role to the administration, is meeting today to decide whether to recommend McAdams’ tenure be stripped. McAdams says the committee is biased against him: […]

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  • Harvard Faculty Backs Democrats 96% of the Time, Says School Paper

    May 1, 2015

    By Maxim Lott at Fox News Republicans running for president might as well skip any fundraisers at Ivy League universities like Harvard, where a new analysis shows 96 percent of faculty donations over the last three years went to Democrats. Academia in general, and the elite northeastern schools in particular, have long been seen as a bastion for left-wing professors. Nationally, about two-thirds of college professors say they are liberal and less than a tenth identify themselves as conservative, according to one study. The imbalance at Harvard, uncovered by the student newspaper Harvard Crimson surprised even Harvard administrators. “If someone gets in trouble […]

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  • Waiting Games Goes on For Professor Caught in Marquette Speech Battle

    March 31, 2015

    By M.D. Kittle at WisconsinWatchdog.org MADISON, Wis. – There aren’t many academicians who know more about John F. Kennedy’s assassination than John McAdams. The Marquette University political science professor wrote the book on the conspiracy theories surrounding the 35th president’s public murder — and the web page. His work, described as “impressively comprehensive,” has spanned a 40-year academic career, most of which he has spent at Marquette. Now McAdams’ professional fate, in large part, rests in the hands of a jury of his peers presiding over one of the more intriguing speech- and academic-freedom cases to confront a U.S. college campus.This nationally respected […]

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  • Higher Ed., Lower Thinking: 2 States Dumb-Down Student Speech

    March 12, 2015

    By Bob Kellogg at OneNewsNow A university in Utah believes that students should not say or post anything that “disparages” or mocks any individual — even including Cuban revolutionary Che Guevara — while a university in Wisconsin prohibits all speech that can cause “emotional discomfort.” In the Beehive State, Young Americans for Liberty (YAL) students at Dixie State University filed a lawsuit after the school refused to approve YAL promotional flyers that featured negative images of Barack Obama, George W. Bush and Marxist revolutionary Che Guevara. Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) executive director Robert Shibley argues that such […]

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  • Top 10 Worst Offenders of Free Speech on College Campuses

    March 6, 2015

    By Napp Nazworth at The Christian Post The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education released its list of the top 10 worst offenders of free speech on college campuses in 2014. The top 10, in alphabetical order, are: Brandeis University, California State University-Fullerton, Chicago State University, Georgetown University, Kansas Board of Regents, Marquette University, Modesto Junior College, U.S. Department’s of Education and Justice, University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign, and University of Iowa. FIRE, founded in 1999, advocates for individual rights at American colleges and universities. It was founded by University of Pennsylvania professor Alan Charles Kors and civil liberties attorney […]

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  • Marquette University Placed On FIRE’s List of Worst Free Speech Offenders After Tenure Fight With Conservative Professor

    March 3, 2015

    By Ashley Dobson at Red Alert Politics Foundation for Individual Rights in Education announced its fourth annual list of the top 10 threats to free speech on campus this week and to no one’s surprise, the major controversy at Marquette University had caught the attention of the organization. Marquette is currently in the process of trying to revoke the tenure of conservative professor John McAdams thanks to his personal blog. The controversy between John McAdams and Marquette stems from a blog post from last November in which he reported on his liberal colleague’s refusal to allow a conservative student to debate the topic […]

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  • Free Speech on Campus: The 10 Worst Offenders of 2014

    March 2, 2015

    By Greg Lukianoff at The Huffington Post College is the place where students should be encouraged to, as Yale promises, “think the unthinkable, discuss the unmentionable, and challenge the unchallengeable.” Unfortunately, schools all across the country not only fall short on promises of free expression and academic freedom but openly suppress constitutionally protected speech on campus by using tools such as speech codes to shut down forms of expression that might be uncomfortable, disagreeable, or even offensive to some members of the campus community. To give a clearer picture of campus censorship, we at the Foundation for Individual Rights in […]

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  • Firing Professor McAdams: When a Catholic University Collides With Political Correctness

    February 18, 2015

    By Howard Kainz at The John William Pope Center In my 35 years of teaching in the Marquette University philosophy department, there were always some faculty (including the present chair) who were quite public about having “partners.” I never witnessed any discrimination against them, nor was I aware of any attempts on their part to impose ideology in classes. I never encountered any difficulty in discussing the pros and cons of “hot button” issues such as homosexuality or abortion in my ethics and philosophical anthropology classes. (My 1999 book, Politically Incorrect Dialogues: Topics Not Discussed in Polite Circles, was an […]

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  • Where Do You Get Punished For Defending Free Speech? At A University, Of Course

    February 16, 2015

    By Bob Kellogg at OneNewsNow A Wisconsin university is punishing a professor who criticized an instructor for telling her students to support same-sex marriage in her class. Professor John McAdams, a conservative political science professor, posted comments about the philosphy class on his Marquette Warrior blog, naming the instructor and describing the students’ account of the pro-homosexual propoganda he opposed. Marquette is now trying to take away McAdams’ tenure after suspending him last December pending a review. Peter Bonilla of the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education says McAdams’ suspension is a free-speech rights issue. If a faculty member can have his tenure revoked […]

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  • Editorial: Stop Squelching Free Speech At College Campuses

    February 13, 2015

    By Las Vegas Review-Journal At Las Vegas Review Journal College campuses are supposed to be marketplaces of ideas, where no one should be afraid to study and debate controversial ideas. If a university limits speech, it limits study — to say nothing of stomping our most important rights. Count the University of Michigan among the campuses caving to political correctness. Michigan has launched a $16,000 “inclusive language campaign” designed to teach students which words are considered offensive and should not be used around others. As part of the campaign, posters have been put up around campus warning students not to […]

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  • Marquette Professor Becomes Face of National Campus Free Speech Battle

    February 6, 2015

    By M.D. Kittle at Watchdog.org MADISON, Wis. — A respected academician for nearly 40 years, Marquette University’s John McAdams has now taken on the position of freedom fighter in the battle between speech and left-wing political correctness on college campuses. The embattled political science professor spoke to Wisconsin Reporter Thursday hours after the university began the process to terminate his tenure. McAdams has been on paid suspension and ordered to stay off campus since November, when the political conservative and frequent critic of Marquette administration criticized in his blog a graduate student teacher who wouldn’t allow a student in her philosophy class […]

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  • Marquette Moves To Fire Tenured Conservative Professor For Blog Post

    February 6, 2015

    By Kaitlyn Schallhorn at Campus Reform Marquette University has moved to fire a tenured conservative professor after he published a blog post about a graduate student instructor’s remarks to a student about gay marriage. Speaking by phone to Campus Reform, Dr. John McAdams confirmed his latest blog post for the Marquette Warrior saying the school has sent him a “Dear John” letter detailing its intent to revoke his tenure and fire him. “They have a history of persuading professors to go quietly and they may think that oh, they can sit down with my lawyer and I’ll agree to just […]

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  • Marquette University Administration Looks To Fire Conservative Tenured Prof

    February 6, 2015

    By Rick Moran at American Thinker The controversy over a blog posting by Marquette University professor John McAdams continues, as the administration informed the conservative professor that they would seek to revoke his tenure and fire him. McAdams published a blog on his Marquette Warrior site highlighting an incident in an ethics class where the grad student teaching the class told a student not to express his anti-gay marriage views because it may offend some people.  McAdams called the instructor out for stifling free speech and academic freedom, which resulted in some nasty e-mails to the grad student. The administration […]

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  • Marquette Professor Fired For Blogging, Academic Freedom Groups Up In Arms

    February 6, 2015

    By Matt Lamb at The College Fix McAdams ‘should have known’ his whistleblowing would lead to ‘threatening communications’ It has been a rough three months for Marquette University professor and acerbic blogger John McAdams. Because McAdams criticized a graduate teaching instructor for silencing an undergraduate owing to his traditional views on marriage, the school informed him last week his tenure is being revoked and he’ll be fired. Though academic observers debated whether McAdams should have named and shamed now-former Marquette grad student Cheryl Abbate – which led to his temporary banishment from campus and canceled classes – even McAdams’ critics are […]

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  • Firing A Faculty Blogger

    February 5, 2015

    By Scott Jaschik at Inside Higher Ed A controversial professor on Wednesday revealed that Marquette University is trying to revoke his tenure and fire him for statements he made about a graduate instructor, with her name, on his blog. The university says his behavior was unprofessional and that he misled the public about what happened in a dispute between the graduate instructor and an undergraduate student. The professor, John McAdams, says he is being punished for his free speech. He also maintains that Marquette shouldn’t be attacking him, given that he is defending an undergraduate’s views against gay marriage that […]

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  • Breaking: Marquette To Fire Whistleblower Who Called Out Gay-Marriage Bullying

    February 5, 2015

    By Greg Piper at The College Fix Political science professor John McAdams will be out of a job for conduct that doesn’t appear to violate any explicit rules at Marquette University. His mortal sin? Blogging. College Fix readers are well aware of the McAdams’ saga: The conservative professor called out a graduate teaching instructor who told a student he couldn’t openly disagree with gay marriage in class – at a Catholic university, of all places. He got banned from campus, apparently because he named a grad student… who happens to have authority over undergrads. McAdams shared a lengthy letter he got […]

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  • Marquette Trying To Fire Tenured Professor Who Blogged About Grad Student Instructor’s Suppression Of Anti-Gay-Marriage Views

    February 5, 2015

    By Eugene Volokh at The Washington Post Scott Jaschik (Inside Higher Ed) has a detailed report; the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education and John K. Wilson (the American Association of University Professors’ Academe blog) (writing for himself, not the AAUP) weigh in on Professor John McAdams’ side, and both link to relevant documents. I’m at a conference and traveling, but I thought I’d pass along the links, and an excerpt from the Inside Higher Ed post: A controversial professor on Wednesday revealed that Marquette University is trying to revoke his tenure and fire him for statements he made about […]

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  • Marquette University Trying to Fire Prof for Criticizing Pro-Gay Instructor

    February 5, 2015

    By Robby Soave at Reason Online Marquette University is moving forward with its plan to fire a tenured professor over his criticisms of an instructor who wouldn’t let any of her students speak out against gay marriage in class. The controversy is interesting for a couple reasons—a Catholic university is essentially punishing a professor whose views on gay marriage are perfectly aligned with church doctrine, for one thing—but most notably, raises important questions about the institution’s commitment to academic freedom. The professor, John McAdams, is known for espousing politically conservative views. He wrote on his blog about a situation involving […]

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  • Marquette professor John McAdams vows appeal after setback in suit against university

    May 5, 2017

    For more than two years now, FIRE has covered the case of Marquette University professor John McAdams, who was suspended by Marquette in December 2014 for criticizing a graduate student instructor on his personal blog. McAdams sued the university over his treatment last year. Yesterday, McAdams’ claims were dismissed by the Milwaukee County Circuit Court, which granted Marquette’s request for summary judgment, finding that McAdams was not unduly punished.    In its press release yesterday, the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty, which represents McAdams in his lawsuit against Marquette, summarized McAdams’ case as follows: In November, 2014, McAdams shared […]

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  • John McAdams Sues Marquette University for Suspension Over Blog Post

    May 2, 2016

    The tenured Marquette University political science professor suspended in 2014 for blogging about a student’s dispute with an instructor over a class discussion of gay marriage announced today he will sue the university. Marquette suspended John McAdams in December 2014 after McAdams took to his personal blog, Marquette Warrior, to criticize a graduate student instructor who told a student that expressing opposition to same-sex marriage was inappropriate in her class. In January 2015, Marquette announced its intention to revoke McAdams’ tenure and terminate him from the Marquette faculty. At a press conference this morning, McAdams and the Wisconsin Institute for […]

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  • Marquette Continues to Earn ‘Worst School’ for Free Speech Label With New Punishments for McAdams

    March 25, 2016

    A suspension through the fall 2016 semester and a compelled apology: that is the punishment reportedly imposed on Marquette University Professor John McAdams yesterday. The punishment stems from his 2014 online criticism of a graduate student instructor who told a student not to oppose same-sex marriage in her class at the Catholic university. This development comes as the result of recommendations made to Marquette President Michael Lovell by a faculty hearing committee in January. However, according to a report today from Inside Higher Ed, a lawyer for McAdams claims that the faculty panel never recommended, in its confidential 123-page report, […]

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  • Marquette Faculty Hearing Committee to Weigh in on McAdams Tenure Dispute

    September 18, 2015

    Next week, suspended Marquette University political science professor John McAdams will face the next step in his tenure revocation battle with the Jesuit university. Marquette’s Faculty Hearing Committee is scheduled to meet on September 21 to consider whether McAdams should be stripped of his tenure following his December 2014 suspension for commentary on his personal blog. The controversy culminating in McAdams’ suspension from teaching began in November 2014, after the professor posted an entry to his blog, the Marquette Warrior, criticizing a then-graduate student instructor, Cheryl Abbate, for preventing a discussion of negative views towards gay marriage in her class […]

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  • After Public Criticism, Marquette Removes Mural and Announces Faculty Departure

    May 22, 2015

    Earlier this week, Marquette University painted over a mural in its Gender and Sexuality Resource Center (GSRC) depicting Assata Shakur (also known as Joanne Chesimard), a woman who escaped from prison and fled to Cuba after her conviction for murdering a New Jersey state trooper in 1973, earning her a spot on the FBI’s most wanted list. Now the university has stated that the director of the GSRC, Susannah Bartlow, is “no longer an employee with Marquette University,” leading media to presume she was fired because of the controversial mural. Although the mural had been on display in the GSRC […]

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  • Speech Code of the Month: Marquette University

    March 9, 2015

    FIRE announces its Speech Code of the Month for March 2015: Marquette University. If you’ve been following higher ed news or reading The Torch recently, you are probably aware that Marquette University is no friend of free speech. In fact, FIRE recently named Marquette one of the ten worst abusers of free speech for its “chilling campaign to revoke the tenure of political science professor John McAdams due to writings on his private blog.” It may not surprise you to learn, therefore, that Marquette also maintains highly restrictive speech codes. While Marquette’s policies impermissibly restrict a variety of student speech, […]

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  • Marquette’s Consistent Inconsistency on Academic Freedom, Tenure, and Civility

    March 4, 2015

    Over recent weeks, my colleague Peter Bonilla has treated Torch readers to a series of articles on the case of Marquette University professor John McAdams, who faces losing tenure for criticizing graduate instructor Cheryl Abbate’s direction to a student not to voice his opposition to same-sex marriage in class because it might offend his classmates. Peter’s three-part series explored Marquette’s disregard for due process and its subversion of basic free speech principles, and it thoroughly refuted Marquette’s absurd argument that the case is not about academic freedom and free speech. But we’re not through with Marquette just yet. Today, I […]

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  • Yes, Marquette’s Plan to Fire John McAdams Is About Free Speech and Academic Freedom

    March 3, 2015

    In two previous Torch entries on Professor John McAdams’s fight to keep his tenure at Marquette University, I’ve focused on Marquette’s abuses of McAdams’s due process rights and the subversions of basic free speech principles it has used first to justify his suspension, and then to justify its aim of revoking his tenure. In this third and final entry McAdams’s case, my focus is on perhaps the most outrageous and dangerous argument Marquette has made to defend its position. In a statement released February 4, Marquette president Michael R. Lovell argued that the university’s designs against McAdams’s tenure “have everything […]

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  • Marquette’s Dangerous Subversion of Free Speech

    February 16, 2015

    Last week, I wrote about the systemic due process failures at Marquette University, which plans to fire tenured political science professor John McAdams for criticism of a graduate student and philosophy instructor published on his blog. As I wrote, “No one concerned for fundamental fairness in campus proceedings should be okay with the extent to which Marquette has flouted its obligations in McAdams’s case.” In this second of my three-part series of Torch entries examining the myriad faults with Marquette’s case against McAdams, I focus on Marquette’s dangerous subversion of basic free speech principles to suit its purposes. Marquette is […]

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  • The Travesty of Due Process at Marquette

    February 10, 2015

    As we announced last week, Marquette University is moving to revoke the tenure of professor John McAdams and fire him from the Marquette faculty because of opinions and criticisms voiced on his blog, Marquette Warrior. The controversial decision was triggered by McAdams’s criticism of a graduate instructor, who he felt wrongly suppressed the expression of certain opinions in her “Theory of Ethics” philosophy course. After the blog post gained widespread media attention, Marquette unilaterally suspended McAdams, and on January 30 it informed him that it intended to revoke his tenure in response to his writing. In this first of a three-part […]

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  • After Gay Marriage Flap, Marquette Moves to Fire Tenured Prof

    February 5, 2015

    MILWAUKEE, Wisc., February 5, 2015—Disregarding freedom of speech, academic freedom, and its own policies, Marquette University will attempt to revoke Professor John McAdams’s tenure and fire him. Marquette is taking action against McAdams, a political conservative and frequent critic of the administration, supposedly in response to his online criticism of a graduate student instructor who told a student not to oppose same-sex marriage in her class. Marquette had previously suspended McAdams without due process, treated him as though he presented a violent threat, and cancelled his current semester’s classes. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) has called for […]

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  • Marquette Professor’s Lawyer Smacks Down Dean’s Weak Justification for Suspension

    January 22, 2015

    Over a month after he was suspended from teaching and banned from campus, Marquette University professor John McAdams has yet to be presented with clear disciplinary charges against him. Marquette’s Dean of Klingler College of Arts and Sciences Richard Holz did, however, offer his explanation as to why the university was “review[ing McAdams’s] conduct and considering all appropriate responses” in a letter dated January 2. Yesterday, McAdams’s lawyer and president of the Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL) Rick Esenberg wrote a letter thoroughly explaining why the university’s statements thus far have been self-contradictory and insufficient to justify McAdams’s […]

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  • Marquette Fails to Follow Procedures in Suspending Professor

    December 30, 2014

    Earlier this month, Marquette University professor John McAdams was suspended from his teaching duties, apparently for a November 9 blog post criticizing a class instructor. The Wisconsin Institute for Law & Liberty (WILL), representing McAdams, wrote a letter to the university (PDF) on December 22 arguing that the suspension violates Marquette’s explicit promises to its professors and must be rescinded. As FIRE reported in November, McAdams’s blog post alleged that a graduate student teaching an ethics class told her students that the issue of gay rights was settled and that it would not be discussed in class. The instructor was, […]

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  • On Marquette Classroom Controversy, Rebuttal Ignores Facts

    November 18, 2014

    On his philosophy news site Daily Nous, University of South Carolina associate professor Justin Weinberg responded today to a blog post I wrote about hostility towards certain viewpoints at Marquette University. In his post, Weinberg argued that graduate student Cheryl Abbate was the “target of a political attack” by one of her students and that she was simply abiding by Marquette’s harassment policy, not censoring student speech, when she told him certain viewpoints weren’t welcome. Weinberg’s reasoning is flawed on several levels. To review: A student in Abbate’s ethics class objected to her allegedly stating that “everybody agrees” on the […]

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  • Marquette U. Prohibits Disagreeing with Classmates—If You Oppose Same-Sex Marriage

    November 11, 2014

    Marquette University, a Roman Catholic institution in Wisconsin, is swiftly establishing itself as a place where not all viewpoints are welcome—even if those viewpoints align with those of the Catholic Church. On his (non-university-affiliated) Marquette Warrior blog, Marquette political science professor John McAdams wrote this weekend about an incident that occurred in Cheryl Abbate’s “Theory of Ethics” class. McAdams reported: [Abbate] listed some issues on the board, and came to “gay rights.” She then airily said that “everybody agrees on this, and there is no need to discuss it.” [A] student, a conservative who disagrees with some of the gay […]

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