The University of Iowa School of Law is currently facing a law suit by Teresa Wagner, a graduate and member of the school’s faculty. Ms. Wagner was not hired for any of the additional jobs for which she applied at the school, even though one was filled by someone with no teaching experience, and another was not filled at all. Ms. Wagner alleges that her inability to be hired stems from her work on conservative-leaning causes such as opposition to abortion, gay marriage, and euthanasia.
The larger issues regard whether liberal bias actually does exist in law schools, and whether political preferences should be allowed to be considered in making hiring decisions. There is little question that Ms. Wagner was qualified to take over the legal writing position at the University of Iowa—having held positions as a professor of law at George Mason and Notre Dame, and having been offered a position at Ave Marie Law School. The trial began at the United States Court for the Southern District of Iowa in Davenport on Monday.
As noted in the Huffington Post, Peter Wood, president of the National Association of Scholars, says “This will put a spotlight on a terrible injustice that is being perpetrated throughout American higher education.” Others worry that a win by Wagner will break open the hiring process, requiring law schools to openly consider the political viewpoints of their candidates, and potentially involving more lawsuits and court interference in hiring.
Walter Olson, a senior fellow at the Cato Institute, believes that the jury’s decision in this case “could shake up lots of hiring practices. If they say state universities are under scrutiny to make sure they are not discriminating against viewpoints, then a lot of people can sue, a lot of cases are going to be pretty good and the universities are going to have someone looking over their shoulder.”