News & Updates

July 12, 2018

Read "A Dangerous Precedent: Court’s Ruling at Marquette," an Op-Ed in the Chronicle of Higher Education (subscription required).

July 7, 2018

Read "At Marquette, conservatives got it wrong," a column in the Washington Post.

July 6, 2018

Read a statement from Marquette University on Wisconsin Supreme Court decision.

Read a Daily Beast story on the case.

May 7, 2018

Read "Catholic colleges, conflicted conservatives," a commentary from the Washington Times.

May 1, 2018

Read "When Studying Doxing Gets You Doxed," an Op-Ed in the Huffington Post.

April 19, 2018

Read a news release from Marquette summarizing oral arguments in the case.

April 18, 2018

Read "It's about decency," a letter from Marquette President Michael R. Lovell.

Read the Wall Street Journal's preview of the case.

April 15, 2018

Read coverage from the Associated Press on the case.

April 6, 2018

Read an opinion piece in the Washington Post. The outlet also published a  Letter to the Editor on April 11, from George Washington University Professor Charles A. Garris, Jr. in response to the article. 

April 4, 2018

News Release:

This Is Why Local and National Business Groups Are Filing 'Friend of the Court' Briefs in McAdams vs. Marquette

A recent article in The Weekly Standard posed the question: “Why Are Businesses Intervening in a Wisconsin Academic Freedom Case?” It’s an important one to ask, and the support from prominent and respected business groups like the National Association of Manufacturers (NAM) and the Milwaukee Metropolitan Association of Commerce (MMAC) emphasizes the important standard McAdams vs. Marquette will set on private employer contract rights. The MMAC brief states, “Private institutions have an interest in ensuring that their employees do not disrupt the organization's purpose, undermine its authority, or subject it or its employees to public ridicule.”

The right of a private employer to set its employment contract is a key aspect of Marquette’s position in this case:

  • Marquette, like other private employers, is protecting its right to respond appropriately when an employee crosses the line and is in violation of his employment contract with the university.
  • Marquette and John McAdams are obligated to honor the disciplinary process agreed to as part of the employment contract, a process through which his tenured peers unanimously found that he had acted unprofessionally and in breach of his duties as a tenured professor.
  • Marquette is asking the Wisconsin Supreme Court to respect John McAdams’ employment contract and respect the university’s rights as a private employer to protect its Catholic, Jesuit Mission and Values.

MMAC, the leading businesses organization in the Milwaukee area representing 300,000 people in wide variety of business, supports Marquette because “where, as here, a private employment contract provides a reasonable process for resolving disputes about an employee’s rights and responsibilities, a court’s review should be limited to whether the process was substantially fulfilled consistent with the contract. Deeper review or the creation of any extraordinary speech right that supersedes the provisions of the private employer-employee contract would interfere with the employer’s right to define its mission, set its priorities, and assess the impact of the alleged infraction on the overall health of the enterprise.”

National Association of Manufacturers, the largest manufacturing association in the United States, representing small and large manufacturers in every industrial sector and in all 50 states, filed a brief in support as, “the concerns identified and positions taken by the MMAC are not unique to Wisconsin and its business community. Because a decision in this appeal will be persuasive authority for courts around the country, the National Association of Manufacturers requests leave to state its support for the position of Marquette University and to endorse the MMAC's brief exploring both the similarities and differences between an institution of higher learning such as Marquette University and commercial employers such as most of the National Association of Manufacturers' members.”

NAM goes on to highlight that, “For all the reasons stated in the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce's amicus curiae brief, this Court should make clear that where, as here, a private employment contract provides a reasonable process for resolving disputes about an employee's rights and responsibilities, a court's review should be limited to whether the process was substantially fulfilled consistent with the contract.“

The business community understands, appreciates and values the principles to set an employer contract where all members of its community can be respected and valued. Businesses and universities across the country have the right to uphold and enforce their values, encourage civility and integrity, and maintain a strong standard of a safe community.

April 4, 2018 News Release

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March 26, 2018

News Release:

Local, state and national business and education communities reinforce key Marquette points in upcoming Wisconsin Supreme Court case

Ahead of the oral arguments before the Wisconsin Supreme Court scheduled for April 19, 2018 in McAdams vs. Marquette, a case regarding a private employer’s right to set rules and conditions of employment, Marquette University has released a website of resources regarding the case. 

The website emphasizes Marquette’s Guiding Values and how they have influenced the university’s position and actions in response to this case. In addition, the website serves as a centralized hub for all relevant case information in order to keep those interested up to date with accurate, current information.

 “As a Catholic, Jesuit University, Marquette strives to live by its Guiding Values, including cura personalis, a Latin phrase meaning care for the whole person,” said Marquette President Michael R. Lovell. “John McAdams violated his contract and treated a student teacher in a manner not in line with those Guiding Values. He continues to reject the judgment of his peers on the Faculty Hearing Committee, who unanimously concluded that he violated his core obligations as a tenured professor. We stand by the disciplinary actions taken and would do the same thing again.”

Notably, the website reinforces key Marquette points from business and educational groups through amicus briefs submitted to the Wisconsin Supreme Court.  

Recent amicus briefs for the McAdams vs. Marquette have been filed by:

  • Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce (MMAC)
  • The National Association of Manufacturers (NAM)
  • Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU)
  • Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities (WAICU)
  • Marquette University Academic Senate

The amicus briefs highlight the following key points of emphasis:

John McAdams’ employment contract requires him to act professionally as a Marquette employee:

“This is not a case about the First Amendment or its limits on the government’s right and ability to regulate speech. It is a case about contract law—specifically, an employment contract between two private parties,” the Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce writes. “In general, a private employer is free to discipline an employee for speech that adversely affects the enterprise or its various constituents. It is fundamental that the First Amendment does not of its own force apply to a private employment relationship...”

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce urges the court to make it clear that, “a court’s review should be limited to whether the process was substantially fulfilled consistent with the contract. Deeper review or the creation of any extraordinary speech right that supersedes the provisions of the private employer-employee contract would interfere with the employer’s right to define its mission, set its priorities, and assess the impact of the alleged infraction on the overall health of the enterprise.

The National Association of Manufacturers says that “private employers should remain free to discipline an employee for conduct or speech that disrupts or adversely affects the particular purpose of the enterprise. And where an employment contract establishes a process to resolve disciplinary disputes, judicial review should be limited to whether the procedures promised were substantially followed.”

The Wisconsin Association of Independent Colleges and Universities emphasizes preserving the independence of Wisconsin's private colleges and universities and the potential for unintended consequences. They note, “the legislative and executive branches have explicitly regulated the tenure, suspension, and dismissal procedures at public universities while preserving the independence of Wisconsin's private colleges and universities. Were this Court to develop the common law of academic freedom instead of interpreting the contract between the parties, there would be a plethora of unintended consequences that would come to fruition. This Court should reject McAdams’ invitation to override the deference and independence the legislature has afforded private universities regarding contractual governance of their employees.”

Disciplinary action was taken against Professor McAdams solely because he jeopardized the safety of a student, putting her directly in harm’s way by “doxing” her - publishing her name and contact information on his blog:

The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities brief highlights this abuse, saying,while Dr. McAdams may well believe that Marquette and his peers acted out of hostility to the viewpoints that he expressed in the blog post at issue, the reality is that he operated his blog for 10 years, publishing more than 3,000 posts that regularly engaged with controversial political and social topics, encountering no adverse actions by Marquette. Indeed, the FHC made clear that it was Dr. McAdams’ decision to publicize a graduate student’s name and contact information in an inaccurate and inflammatory post that was the basis for their recommendation, not his viewpoints on the underlying controversy...,[A]s the FHC emphasized, faculty members’ obligations to avoid harm to others in the educational community ‘take on special resonance at Marquette, which is a Jesuit university that has incorporated the concept of cura personalis—care for the whole person—into its foundational values.’”

Marquette handled the situation properly, and followed its established internal review process:

The Metropolitan Milwaukee Association of Commerce notes the importance of procedures, saying,thus, where the employment contract establishes a process to resolve disciplinary disputes, judicial review should be limited to whether the procedures promised were substantially followed. Any greater review would involve an evaluation of the organization’s mission, values, and priorities—not an inquiry into which courts should delve.”

The Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities also notes, “the Court should defer to the results of the disciplinary process specified in Dr. McAdams’ contract, to which Marquette and its faculty committed the protection of those values.”

The University Academic Senate notes, “despite representing a diversity of viewpoints, the [Faculty Hearing Committee] rendered a unanimous recommendation in this case, and meticulously documented its rationale in a detailed and thorough report.”

Other relevant information, materials, and outside support regarding the case will be posted to the website as available.

March 26, 2018 News Release

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