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Court clears UI law school of bias

B.A. Morelli • Iowa City Press-Citizen • March
31, 2010

A judge dismissed a lawsuit alleging political bias
by the dean of the University of Iowa College of Law
on Tuesday.

Teresa Wagner, an employee in the law school
writing center, sued Dean Carolyn Jones, in her
individual and official capacities, arguing she was
passed over for a faculty position because of her
conservative political views. The case was filed in U.
S. District Court in Davenport in January 2009.

The court granted Jones summary judgment,
dismissing all claims against her with prejudice,
which means Wagner is barred from making the
same claim again, according to the ruling by Judge
Charles Wolle. Wagner was assessed all court costs,
according to Wolle’s ruling.

“Jones did not allow Wagner’s beliefs to influence
her decision, the faculty committee did not base its
recommendation on Wagner’s beliefs, and Wagner’s
contrary view is not supported by admissible,
competent, material evidence concerning what the
faculty and Jones considered in not hiring Wagner
for the (Legal Analysis, Writing and Research)
position,” according to Wolle’s ruling.

Jones was traveling and was not immediately
available for comment.

Eric Andersen, associate academic dean and a law
professor, declined comment other than to say, “I
agree with the decision, and I think the court
decision speaks for itself.”

Voice and e-mail messages left for Wagner, who is
still on staff at the law school, were not immediately
returned.

Wagner, of Iowa City, applied in 2006 for an
advertised full-time writing instructor position for a
course called Legal Analysis, Writing and Research,
and later, she applied for a part-time adjunct writing
instructor position, according to the lawsuit.

She argued that UI violated her First and 14th
Amendment rights by repeatedly denying her those
positions "for illegal reasons," according to the
lawsuit.

Her lawsuit stated that at least 46 of the
approximately 50 faculty members in the law school
who vote on faculty hires are registered Democrats
in Johnson County and the college has only one
registered Republican among its voting faculty, and
that person was hired 20 years ago.