Law School Denies Bias In Hiring Suit

Ann McClure's picture

The University of Iowa College of Law rejected a prominent Republican anti-abortion activist for a job because she performed poorly in an interview, not because of her conservative politics, state lawyers argued Friday.

The Iowa attorney general’s office, which is representing the law school and former dean Carolyn Jones, filed a brief laying out its defense to a federal lawsuit filed by Teresa Wagner, who claims she was passed over for jobs because of her political views and affiliation with social conservative groups.

Wagner had worked for the National Right to Life Committee and the Family Research Council and edited a book about the anti-abortion movement before she applied for jobs to teach legal analysis and writing at the law school in 2007 and 2008 and was rejected. Wagner, an alum of the school, was working as a part-time tutor at the school’s writing center at the time, a job she still holds.

Republicans have latched on to the lawsuit as a vivid example of liberal bias at public universities, and the case is set for trial Oct. 15 in federal court in Davenport. The case received wide attention after a federal appeals court last year reinstated Wagner’s claims, noted evidence that only one out of 50 of the school’s faculty members is a registered Republican, and quoted an email in which an associate dean said he feared Wagner was rejected “because they so despise her politics (and especially her activism about it).”

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