A federal jury sided with a conservative college professor who claimed in a lawsuit that the University of North Carolina at Wilmington discriminated against him due to his writings and religious views.
Michael Adams, an associate professor of criminology and Townhall.com columnist, filed the lawsuit seven years ago after he said he was denied a promotion to full professor because he’s a conservative Christian.
A federal judge threw out the suit in 2010, finding that Adams’ writings could be considered work-related speech – which is not protected under the First Amendment – because he included them in his application for promotion.
But an appeals court later overturned that ruling, and the jury ruled Thursday that Adams’ speech was a “substantial or motivating factor” in the university’s decision not to promote him.
Adams, who routinely criticizes liberal students and professors in his columns, said he was “thrilled” by the verdict.
The university said it disagreed with the jury’s decision, saying in a statement that its “faculty properly applied their academic judgment in determining that Dr. Adams’s application did not merit promotion to full professor in 2006 and firmly denies that Dr. Adams’s political or religious viewpoints played any role whatsoever in the decision.”
In a column published Monday, prior to the verdict, Adams outlined his plans should he win his lawsuit against the university.
Adams said he would push for the University of North Carolina system to establish a center for student rights, similar to watchdog groups for black or LGBT students, to protect conservative and Christian students.
He also wants North Carolina lawmakers to pass a “religious liberty” bill that would prevent college administrators from interfering with religious and other belief-based student organizations.
Adams also called for legislation that clarifies the definition of academic and non-academic program spending for higher education and require separate budgets.
“Funding requests for the physics department should not be entangled with funding for the Gay and Lesbian Resource Centers,” Adams wrote. “Finally, line item veto authority should be established so we can defund gay activism without defunding physics (and thus being accused of waging a ‘war on science’).”
Adams was represented in his lawsuit by the conservative Alliance Defending Freedom organization.
He was hired by UNCW in 1993 as an assistant professor and promoted to associate professor.
The former atheist became a Christian in 2000 and said his religious beliefs transformed his views on political and social issues.
Hear Rush Limbaugh address Adams’ complaints about higher education in this video posted online by thejimmyzshow: