by Mitch Kokai
Senior Political Analyst, John Locke Foundation
George Leef’s latest Martin Center column analyzes the resolution of a court case pitting Marquette University against one of its professors.
At last, McAdams v. Marquette University is over, and the outcome is heartening for Americans who cherish free speech and adherence to contracts. Conversely, it has those who believe that speech that ofends any politically correct sensibilities must be punished gnashing their teeth. …
… To briefly recount the facts of the case, Marquette banished from campus and sought to revoke the tenure of a political science professor and terminate his employment merely because of a blog post he wrote.
In that post, McAdams criticized a young faculty member, Cheryl Abbate, for the way she dismissed a student’s inquiry about whether the ethics course she was teaching would cover same-sex marriage. She didn’t just say no, but told him that the matter was settled, that any discussion of it in class would be regarded as homophobic harassment, and that he should drop the class if he wasn’t happy.
In his post, McAdams said that Abbate’s response exemplified the leftist tendency to declare that positions contrary to theirs are immoral and not worth considering. Debate is therefore stifled just because an argument might hurt someone’s feelings. Universities, McAdams opined, should never become so close-minded. …
… The Court concluded that Marquette had no cause to suspend McAdams and had thereby breached its contract with him. It instructed the lower court to order the university to reinstate McAdams to his faculty position, with tenure, and to determine back pay and other damages.
Discussing the decision, attorney and former FIRE president David French nailed the truth: “Elite private universities—often using flowery aspirational language—promise a marketplace of ideas and then deliver less academic freedom than the community college across town.” But this time, that didn’t fly.