Appeal Filed In Academic Freedom Case
Special Report - April 16, 2010
Attorneys representing a conservative professor in his discrimination lawsuit against the University of North Carolina at Wilmington (UNC-W) have filed an appeal with the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, in response to a federal judge’s decision issued last month. The U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Southern Division ruled in a summary judgment order on March 15 that Dr. Adams’ nationally syndicated opinion columns are not protected by the First Amendment because he referred to them in a promotion application. In an appeal filed April 9, the Alliance Defense Fund (ADF), which is representing Dr. Adams in the ongoing lawsuit, argues that his opinion columns constitute protected free speech.
As we have previously reported, the case involves a lawsuit filed against UNC-Wilmington in April 2007 by ADF’s Center for Academic Freedom on behalf of Dr. Adams, an associate professor of criminology at the university. The lawsuit contends that Dr. Adams was “denied promotion [to full professor] and faced harassment by his superiors because of his religious beliefs and conservative political viewpoint.” Dr. Adams is a former atheist who converted to Christianity in 2000. In addition to teaching in the criminology department at UNC-Wilmington since 1993, he is a nationally syndicated conservative columnist and the author of the book, Welcome to the Ivory Tower of Babel: Confessions of a Conservative College Professor. In April 2008, a federal judge denied most of the university’s request to dismiss the lawsuit, which is Adams v. The Trustees of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.
“Christian professors should not be discriminated against because of their beliefs. Disagreeing with an accomplished professor’s religious and political views is no grounds for refusing him promotion,” said ADF Senior Counsel David French. “Opinion columns are some of the clearest examples of free speech protected by the First Amendment. Mentioning them on a promotion application does not change that.”
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