Conservative professor awarded new trial on discrimination suit

A University of Iowa (UI) scholar, claiming to have faced discrimination from the school’s administration because of her conservative views, was awarded a second trial in a federal appeals court last Tuesday.

Teresa R. Wagner faced adversity in court in 2012 when she filed a claim suggesting the former dean of the university, Carolyn Jones, refused to promote her to a full time position because of conflicting political beliefs.

When Campus Reform reached out to Jones for comment on this article, she refused and hung up.

Wagner’s formal complaint filed in a federal court in 2009 states the following regarding her qualifications to advance into a more prominent position:

“As to her competence: Wagner had 13 years legal experience, experience teaching this exact same class at George Mason University Law School, was one of three finalists from a pool of approximately 50, and was passed over not only for the two (this court overlooks there were two full-time openings, and only one was filled), but was not even considered for any of the subsequent part-time adjunct faculty openings.”

However, UI Spokesperson, Tom Moore, defended the University’s decision claiming it had nothing to do with her political views; after consideration, the faculty determined she was not qualified to fill the position.

“Since 2006, Teresa Wagner has been a part-time employee as a staff member in the College’s Writing Center. The College has renewed her contract annually,” Moore told Campus Reform in a statement. “In the fall of 2006, she applied for a full-time faculty position as a Legal Analysis, Writing and Research instructor, which is an entirely different position than the staff job she has held in the Writing Center.”

Wagner is under legal restrictions and was unable to respond to Moore’s remarks.

According to Wagner’s lawsuit, she was a singled out as a registered Republican among approximately 50 faculty members.

The court picked up Wagner’s case three years later. Jury members denied her first claim, concluding her First Amendment rights had not been violated. However, members faced gridlock on her second claim, declaring she had been denied equal-protection rights under the 14th Amendment.

Ultimately, the presiding judge dismissed Wagner’s equal protection claim and rejected her bid for a new trial. The panel later revealed that the judge unconventionally questioned jurors after their initial dismissal from the courtroom.

Despite Wagner’s adversarial trials, the UI scholar was granted another shot at redemption when a unanimous panel of three U.S. Court of Appeals judges for the Eighth Circuit, reversed the order and granted her another trial.

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