Before he became a Christian, Dr. Mike Adams was the rising star in the University of North Carolina-Wilmington’s (“UNCW”) Department of Sociology and Criminology. As a liberal and an atheist, he received a steady stream of accolades from colleagues and supervisors alike. But when he became a Christian and a conservative, everything changed. He became the target of numerous, intrusive investigations on campus, even though the charges were clearly fraudulent. One of his supervisors reprimanded him for the outspoken conservative views he highlights in his nationally syndicated columns. Everything culminated in 2006 when Dr. Adams applied for promotion to full professor and for tenure. Though he excelled in all three areas of evaluation, the chair and senior faculty of his department refused to promote him to full professor because of his religious and political views.
WIN- On April 10, 2007, the ADF Center for Academic Freedom filed suit on behalf of Dr. Adams against officials from UNCW for retaliating against Dr. Adams, violating his First Amendment right to freedom of speech, denying him equal protection of the law as guaranteed by the Fourteenth Amendment, and discriminating against him on account of religion in violation of the Civil Rights Act of 1964. In June of 2010, ADF filed the opening brief in his appeal to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit. The American Association of University Professors, FIRE, and the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression filed a friend of the court brief on his behalf. Both briefs show how the district court misinterpreted the Supreme Court’s decision in Garcetti v. Ceballos by applying it to faculty members at public universities. The Supreme Court specifically reserved this issue in Garcetti, and it did so for good reason. After all, professors are required to publish their viewpoints and opinions in order to further their careers. If the First Amendment does not protect those writings, “publish or perish” soon becomes “publish and perish.” And it is encouraging to see organizations from across the ideological spectrum come together to defend these fundamental freedoms and to ensure that the university campus remains the marketplace of ideas. On January 26, 2011, the Fourth Circuit Court of Appeals heard oral arguments in this case, and issued their decision on April 6, 2011. They reversed the district court, finding that Adams’ columns and speeches constituted protected, private speech and that university officials could be held personally liable for damages should Adams ultimately prevail in the case.
ADF is actively involved in cases protecting the rights of professors to express their views both inside and outside the classroom, free from discrimination because of their Christian or conservative views.
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