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


Marquette University

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Case Overview


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. McAdams subsequently sued the university and was vindicated by the Wisconsin Supreme Court, which held that Marquette University breached its contract in disciplining McAdams.