Court rules university violated conservative professor's First Amendment rights

Kaitlyn Schallhorn
Former Reporter

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  • Mike Adams, a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington, was hired in 1993 when he was a self-described atheist.
  • After converting to Christianity in 2000, Adams became an outspoken conservative.
  • The university denied Adams a promotion in 2006.
  • A jury has concluded that the University of North Carolina-Wilmington retaliated against one of its professors for his outspoken conservative views.

    The battle for his First Amendment rights is finally over for Mike Adams, a criminology professor who asserted the university denied him a promotion to full professor in 2006 because of his conversion to Christianity and subsequent vocal conservatism.

    “To be able to speak freely without retaliation is a principle that should be a reality on campus and the jurors reassured that.”   

    Today, a jury in a U.S. District Court in Greenville, N.C., agreed.

    “We are just grateful that the jury saw what we’ve long known what was the case, that Dr. Adams was an incredible scholar,” Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) attorney Travis Barham, who represents Adams, told Campus Reform.

    “This is an incredibly important victory for the First Amendment,” Barham said. “To be able to speak freely without retaliation is a principle that should be a reality on campus and the jurors reassured that.”

    The university hired Adams in 1993; at the time, he was a self-described atheist. After his conversion to Christianity in 2000, Adams adjusted his political and social views and spoke publicly on conservatism, including through his column at From then on, Adams was subjected to “intrusive investigations” and “baseless accusations” according to an ADF press release.

    “They retaliated against me for exercising my First Amendment rights in my column and other outlets,” Adams told Campus Reform after the trial. “I’m unbelievably thrilled [at the verdict].”

    The case was originally filed in April 2007 and the trial was granted by a federal court last year.

    Follow the author of this article on Twitter: @katie0509

    Kaitlyn Schallhorn

    Kaitlyn Schallhorn

    Former Reporter

    Kaitlyn Schallhorn is a reporter with Campus Reform. Prior to joining Campus Reform, Kaitlyn was a reporter at Red Alert Politics and covered business and restaurants for the Alexandria Times.  

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