A lawsuit against the University of Iowa law school alleging ideological discrimination in faculty hiring has ended in a mistrial. The jury sided for the University on one charge, but deadlocked on the other. The AP reports:
During a weeklong trial watched closely in higher education, Wagner claimed that the overwhelmingly liberal faculty refused to hire her because she is a Republican who had worked for social conservative groups that oppose abortion rights. . . .
Professors testified that while they were aware of Wagner’s political beliefs, they passed her over for jobs teaching legal analysis and writing because she flunked a job interview in January 2007. A string of professors testified that she botched questions about how she would teach legal analysis, a key component of the job.
But Wagner said that claim was fabricated to excuse the political motivations of the 50-member faculty, which included 46 registered Democrats. She said the faculty did not want an outspoken female opponent of abortion rights to join their ranks. . . .
The trial exposed tension among the Iowa faculty and questionable hiring practices, including the law school’s decision to erase a videotape of Wagner’s job interview shortly after she was turned down. The university also could not produce any written documents showing criticism of her interview at the time; the only documents made public were from professors praising her.
The Chronicle of Higher Education has more.
I agree with Professor Bainbridge that courts should not second-guess faculty hiring decisions, but that cases like this show some faculties are not genuinely interested in having a diversity of viewpoints or perspectives.
[Note: Typo fixed – post should have said I do not think courts should be second-guessing faculty hiring decisions.]