Teresa Wagner was deemed as a lead candidate for two open positions at the University of Iowa law school to teach writing. She is an alumnus of the school and had been working part-time at the school’s writing center.
She garnered positive reviews from a committee and from students. Wagner then interviewed with the faculty in 2007, which is when one of the open jobs was given to someone without teaching experience and the other job was not filled. Wagner was also passed over for jobs in later years. She claims that she was blackballed because of the legal work she did against abortion rights.
This week, she will be taking her complaint to a jury.
“This will put a spotlight on a terrible injustice that is being perpetrated throughout American higher education,” Peter Wood said. Wood is the president of the National Association of Scholars. “What makes Teresa Wagner’s case so extraordinary is she came up with the documentary evidence of what was really going on.”
The federal trial will began on Monday in Davenport, Iowa. Wagner plans to argue that the law school faculty prevented her from receiving a job at the school because she is opposed to abortion rights, gay marriage and euthanasia when she worked at the Family Research Council as a lawyer and the National Right to Life Committee in Washington.
Wagner claims that Randall Bezanson, a professor, was the main opposition to her hiring. Bezanson was a law clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun when Blackmun wrote the decision for Roe vs. Wade that legalized abortion in 1973. Wagner also claims that anywhere from 46 to 50 of the faculty who took part in deciding her fate were Democrats.
She said just one was Republican. Wagner will submit an email into evidence that was sent from a school official who was in favor of her hiring. The email warned the dean that faculty opposed Wagner “because they so despise her politics (and especially her activism about it).”
Attorneys representing the law school are going to argue that Wagner answered a question wrong during her interview for the job in 2007. Wagner claims that prior to a vote by the faculty, Bezanson spoke out against Wagner. During a deposition, Bezanson said he “picked up someone saying she was conservative” when talks ensued but did deny that this was the reason for opposing her. “However anybody voted, nobody is ever stupid enough to say anything about that in a faculty meeting.”