Judge rules professor’s opinion columns not protected by First Amendment
ADF attorneys considering appeal of decision in lawsuit against UNC-Wilmington
Wednesday, March 17, 2010
RALEIGH, N.C. — A federal judge ruled Monday that nationally syndicated opinion columns written by a criminology professor at the University of North Carolina-Wilmington are not protected by the First Amendment because he referred to them on a promotion application.
ADF attorneys argue that the university refused to promote Dr. Mike Adams to full professor because of his religious beliefs and political viewpoints, as espoused through his columns. They are considering their options for appealing the decision.
“Christian professors should not be discriminated against because of their beliefs. No university should refuse promotion to an accomplished professor simply because it disagrees with his religious and political views,” said ADF Senior Counsel Jordan Lorence. “We disagree with the court’s assessment that Dr. Adams’ speech is somehow not protected by the Constitution. Opinion columns are classic examples of free speech protected by the First Amendment, and mentioning them on a promotion application does not change this fact.”
Adams frequently received accolades from his colleagues after the university hired him as an assistant professor in 1993 and promoted him to associate professor in 1998 when he was an atheist. However, intrusive investigations, baseless accusations, and the denial of promotion to full professor followed his conversion to Christianity in 2000, even though his scholarly output surpassed that of almost all of his colleagues.
ADF attorneys representing Adams sued UNCW in April 2007, arguing that he was harassed and denied a promotion because his Christian beliefs did not coincide with the political and philosophical stance of his superiors. The court denied the university’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit in 2008.
The summary judgment order in the case Adams v. The Trustees of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington was issued by the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of North Carolina, Southern Division.