November 24, 2012

"A federal jury believed the University of Iowa’s law school illegally denied a promotion to a conservative Republican because of her politics."

"However, jurors said they felt conflicted about holding a former dean personally responsible for the bias. They wanted to hold the school itself accountable, but federal law does not recognize political discrimination by institutions."
[Teresa]Wagner was turned down despite enthusiastic praise for her interview performance by members of the faculty appointments committee and members of the law school administration. Not all on the faculty were supportive, however. Carolyn Jones, the law school dean at the time, said she rejected Wagner for a faculty position because of opposition within the faculty. According to testimony, Jones said “she always adopts the faculty’s recommendations.”

Faculty members testified that they opposed hiring Wagner because she had performed poorly in the job interview. But an associate dean expressed concern in an email that Wagner might be opposed by professors who “so despise her politics.”
"Wagner is a Republican who has worked for anti-abortion organizations."

70 comments:

tim maguire said...

I think it's inappropriate to hold the dean personally responsible. Sometimes there is no remedy for a wrong. I suggest her supporters contact their local legislator to create a remedy going forward.

Mitchell the Bat said...

Perhaps the jury's finding tells us that it's time to do away with the antitrust exemption.

Ann Althouse said...

"I think it's inappropriate to hold the dean personally responsible."

It's cool how you can set things up so that no one can be held responsible even when it's clear that rights have been violated. The employee is screwed, but you can't say anyone did it.

ddh said...

The dean had the responsibility to see that hiring decisions were made fairly according to the law. She chose to let the prejudices of some faculty members decide for her. Perhaps substituting "African-American" for "Republican" will clarify her culpability. If I had been on the jury, I would have had no problem finding the dean guilty, even if no one else were sued.

Tank said...

If only her grandma had had high cheekbones.

Damn.

Paco Wové said...

A mirror image of "institutional racism", perhaps. In that case, no one person is racist!, but the institution is still at fault for the outcome.

Fritz said...

"It's cool how you can set things up so that no one can be held responsible even when it's clear that rights have been violated. The employee is screwed, but you can't say anyone did it. "

Well, they are lawyers, after all.

ddh said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
James Pawlak said...

If the suit were based on "A Violation Of Civil Rights Under Color Of Law", could the university be held liable? Is such a suit possible?

MadisonMan said...

Tenure is a tricky business. Dad always said granting tenure was like adopting a sibling. Suddenly they're a member of your family, and you can't do much about it if you adopt someone you can't stand.

It's too bad, though, that Iowa Law School Profs feel their worldview is so tenuous that its existence is threatened by someone holding different views. That's how I view this whole thing.

Why would anyone willingly want to work at U of Iowa, however?

Zach said...

They wanted to hold the school itself accountable, but federal law does not recognize political discrimination by institutions."

That's peculiar. Who is discriminating, if not the institution?

Regarding the suit against the dean, I can see the rationale for not singling one person out. But on the other hand, the dean is the one person who has chosen to act as the triggerman here. There's a vast, nebulous cloud of opposition, which somehow nucleated into a concrete act of illegal discrimination.

The dean is the person who decided that the appropriate response to discriminatory sentiments was to break the law. Why shouldn't she pay?

Zach said...

Despite my arguments in favor of suing the dean, I find it very strange that the federal law does not cover discrimination by the institution. It's almost certainly bad policy.

If you can only sue individual people, there's going to be a natural scapegoat effect. Punishing one person is disproportionate, and lets other people off the hook. It also makes the institution judgement proof. A conservative estimate of the damages from losing tenure is going to be a couple of million dollars. You're losing out on a lifetime six figure job, and instead you're being de facto fired, in a bad economy, with extremely specialized work skills. Plus, you've got massive reputational damages. How are you ever going to recover those kinds of damages by suing a dean?

Rick67 said...

Let's just say that within my department and among my colleagues I keep my political views to myself.

When I can. Because sometimes they try hard to *force* me into conversations.

chickelit said...

Ha ha. Iowa faculty politics are worthy of derision. Based on the few academic chemists I've met and worked with, their well really is poisoned. Not Madison-level poisoned--yet--but that's just because they aspire.

Hypocrites too when it comes to Federal largesse.

Chuck said...

Zach; you make a very interesting point about vicarious liability and collectible defendants.

But what I suspect in this case is that if the jury had found for the plaintiff, and if there had been money damages (what were the alleged money damages?), that the institution would have either been vicariously liable, or else would have indemnified the dean in question.

And, this is not an uncommon phenomenon among civil juries. They are often too clever by half -- suspecting whether defendants are insured, how much the insurance limits might be, and who will be collectible if they find liability.

But in this case, I get the impression that in addition, the jury did not want to pin actual blame on an individual, when in fact it was a pervasive and generalized kind of prejudice at work.

This story is still a good one; important and revealing. Even better, would be a large story supplying a round-up of all of the left-wing progressive causes being actively supported and litigated by law school legal clinics across the country.

Pogo said...

The jury learned from the SCOTUS; they found that discrimination is a tax by an institution, not a penalty by an individual.

David said...

So much for agency.

And so much for institutional bullshit about good citizenship.

And so much for wimp juries for that matter. The poor dean. Why require integrity and courage of the beleaguered woman.

bpm4532 said...

Elementary and secondary schools are required to implement remedies. I see no reason why a public institution of "higher" education should be exempt from implementing remedies to discrimination. In fact, public and private institutions of "higher" education insist on such things.

School principals and board members have been held culpable in similar cases in the past, so I see no reason why deans and university presidents should not also be held responsible for their supervisory failures.

Michael said...

It's cool how you can set things up so that no one can be held responsible...

The wonderful world of government institutions.

"Mistakes were made" but no one can ever be held accountable or even identified as the decision-maker. Always a nebulous "someone".


Renee said...



Maybe the law professors, who felt uncomfortable working with a Republican should go into solo-practitioner work.

MayBee said...

You could sue a corporation for a similar violation, no?

And oddly, the voting rights act imposes penalties on states (and voters) for decades-old discrimination.

This is so weird.

MayBee said...

Is Fisher suing the University of Texas or the State of Texas?
How is this so different?

EDH said...

However, jurors said they felt conflicted about holding a former dean personally responsible for the bias.

Maybe the jury loved her work on The Addams Family?

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Viewpoint discrimination is always wrong and we should never exclude others on the basis of political affiliation. For instance, The Ku Klux Klan, is a mighty, long established political institution, with a venerable history in the United States. I for one find it disgraceful that its members face so much opposition when it comes to simply being able to voice their ideological concerns openly and without fearing the consternation of their civic and governmental appointments. Except for Cedarford.

Paco Wové said...

Ok everybody, thread's over. Bye!

Chip S. said...

@Ritmo,

Nazis. Don't forget the Nazis.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Nah. Nazis aren't as "home-grown". Openly expressed pride in the Reich among ethnic Germans sort of went undercover after 1945.

Maybe if they took to re-enacting the battles and dressing up in all the regalia, though...

O Ritmo Segundo said...

And planting the flag atop state houses.

chickelit said...

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Maybe if they took to re-enacting the battles and dressing up in all the regalia, though...

I knew you'd drag Lemmy into it...link

O Ritmo Segundo said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
O Ritmo Segundo said...

That's a great link, Chick - and exactly what the neo-Confederate wanna-be's need to do: Relegate the decor of the past to artistic ways, if not ideological ones. Iron & Wine is from South Carolina, and has a great backwoodsy, "confederate" look about him. Either that, or he he slept under a bridge.* But the point is, you can make use of aesthetic symbols of rightly disavowed institutions, without endorsing their meanings. Even The Sex Pistols and other punk bands got away with appropriating Nazi imagery, if I'm not mistaken. I guess that's because, unlike American conservatives, they understand the difference between aesthetic nostalgia and ideological nostalgia. That would be a great lesson for them to learn.

*I'm sure it's a look that works for many Southerners, including Lynyrd Skynyrd.

edutcher said...

Technically, the institution is at fault, but, if you want to punish individuals, I guess you have to go for the dean, who caved to pressure.

chickelit said...

@Ritmo: Lemmy explains his aesthetics: link. The whole clip is worth a look.

Scott said...

It's really sad that the left has so politicized academia that professors can't tolerate faculty who have different political views.

The intellectual life of this country is getting smaller and smaller.

Allan Bloom was right.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Scottie - I'm sure there are slave-owning corporate shills all across America who find your views just boring and conventional enough for them and wouldn't have any ideological trouble hiring you in a heartbeat!

joe said...

Walter J Dickey Professor MsnLawLaw SchoolLaw School $208,003 2009
Howard S Erlanger Professor MsnLawLaw SchoolLaw School $183,904 2009
Stewart Macaulay Professor MsnLawLaw SchoolLaw School $171,934 2009
Neil K Komesar Professor MsnLawLaw SchoolLaw School $166,745 2009
Cliff F Thompson Professor MsnLawLaw SchoolLaw School $162,696 2009

Robin Alta Charo Professor MsnLawLaw SchoolLaw School $160,013 2008
Charles R Irish Professor MsnLawLaw SchoolLaw School $160,000 2008
Peter C Carstensen Professor MsnLawLaw SchoolLaw School $160,000 2008

Ann Althouse Professor MsnLawLaw SchoolLaw School $158,542 2009


Kenneth B Jr Davis Dean MsnLawLaw SchoolLaw School $304,436 2009

All men, making more taxpayer money then Althouse. Well, except for the possible woman, "Robin".


I keep a close watch on this politics of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep the ends out for the means that binds
Because my money is mine, I walk the line

I find it very, very easy to be donkey blue
I find myself stoned when each day is through
Yes, I'll admit that I'm a fool for you
Because my moneyz mine, I walk the line

As sure as night is dark and day is light
I keep you on my mind both day and night
And happiness I've known proves that it's right
Because my money makes my moral mind , I walk the line

You've got a way to keep me on your abortion side
You give me cause for love that I can't hide
For you I know I'd even swim in the blood dimmed tide
Because my money tis mine, I walk the line

I keep a close watch on this politics of mine
I keep my eyes wide open all the time
I keep the ends out for the means that binds
Because my money depends on my correct mind, I walk the line







Scott said...

The viewpoints that are boring and conventional all come from the left. "Political correctness," the bullying of "the other" to accept the left;s dull template rhetoric, is progressivism's singular achievement.

The biggest lies the left tells are to themselves -- that they smarter, cooler, bolder, wiser, more loving, more tolerant than "the other." It's annoying, and it's also sad that the educational system creates people so craven and vacuous.

Chip S. said...

I'm sure there are slave-owning corporate shills all across America...

I think you may have established a new personal best for deranged comments.

Broomhandle said...

Ritmo,
Robert Byrd and all his Democrat apologists agree with you.

I Callahan said...

Viewpoint discrimination is always wrong and we should never exclude others on the basis of political affiliation. For instance, The Ku Klux Klan, is a mighty, long established political institution, with a venerable history in the United States

Right, because being a conservative is the same as being a member of the KKK.

What a tool.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

The new political gentry are not equivalent to the old, Chip?

If they demand excessive patronage for the privilege of curbing high national unemployment, I guess you'll have to forgive me if that sounds pretty snooty to me.

Or if they prefer something less, er, aristocratic than "slave-owners", how about just calling them "economic terrorists", as they hold the nation's economy hostage to their demand for increased clout, favors, political patronage and just plain ass-kissing?

Or better yet, perhaps nothing need be said, as we instead listen to their continued, self-destructive and self-pitying grumbles about the supposed entitlement of their inferiors to food, shelter, health care. It is indeed ironic that their candidate garnered the "47%" vote share that he proclaimed was the birthright of his inferiors.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Talk about a turning of the tables.

Chip S. said...

I'm not sure what point you're trying to make, Ritmo, other than you think Republicans are evil.

As you must know, Romney's "47%" remark was about the political dynamic of increasing dependence on government. If the government taxes away my income and then sends it back to me at some later point in my life, then when I start receiving those gov checks I do indeed depend (partly, at least) on the continuation of those checks. My direct financial concern is for the continuation of tax levels sufficient to keep those checks coming.

By contrast, if I save for my retirement by investing in private capital, then my direct financial concern is the continued profitability of private businesses.

In short, my voting tendency is affected by government policy. That was Romney's point, not the malignant version peddled by Axelrod et al.

It's a straightforward political analysis regarding the importance of the election just passed. The triumphalism on your side served to verify Romney's analysis, IMO.

Trashhauler said...

People commit crimes. Unless an organization is based on the commission of crimes, it is only proper to assign guilt to whoever commits the act.

However, if an organization can be held liable for a crime, then it is being treated as a person under the law. The logical corollary: If any organization is a person, then it has the rights of a person - such as, for example, free speech. You can take it from there.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

In short, my voting tendency is affected by government policy. That was Romney's point, not the malignant version peddled by Axelrod et al.

You might object to the description of the kind of condescension plainly evident in this sort of comment as "malignant", but for some reason the smarter and more successful politicians in his party seem to disagree:

“What the president’s campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote,”

It's a straightforward political analysis regarding the importance of the election just passed. The triumphalism on your side served to verify Romney's analysis, IMO.

I'm feeling good that ever more voters understand that "gifts" to the already entitled and privileged are increasingly less helpful to the economy than those to everyone else -- including those whom Romney was so out-of-touch as to deem irredeemably irascible for demand "health care, food, housing". Yes, how horrible that we place higher economic and moral virtue on those things than on his god-damn less proportionally equivalent than you or I pay tax break.

What an injustice, man. I really feel your pain, and the pain of Mitt's car elevators.

BTW, you should watch the Onion skit on his Googling habits. The funniest part was where he inputs "I demand" into his search terms, and proposes an aerospace equivalent of Noah's Ark for the wealthy, where they go to repopulate new planets with two bills of every currency.

Chip S. said...

“What the president’s campaign did was focus on certain members of his base coalition, give them extraordinary financial gifts from the government, and then work very aggressively to turn them out to vote,”

Let's try to explain the 85% share of extraordinary voter turnout for Obama in Philly, among people who have suffered greatly under Obama's 4 years of economic failure, who might rationally be expected to be dissatisfied with the incumbent.

There's Romney's explanation, which is that they prefer the certainty of government benefits to the possibility of actual employment through a change of policy. I consider that a reasonable explanation, not a vilification.

Another possible explanation is that those voters were motivated primarily by a sense of ethnic solidarity that trumped considerations of their own economic self-interest.

I find the latter explanation far more disturbing, yet it seems to be the preferred narrative among Democrats.

Trashhauler said...

"I'm feeling good that ever more voters understand that "gifts" to the already entitled and privileged are increasingly less helpful to the economy than those to everyone else...."
_________________

Let's get real, Ritmo. Your good feeling is based on nothing more sophisticated than "we have more votes, so we can take your stuff." Successful electioneering, sure. A sound basis for ensuring the general welfare? Guess we'll see.

frank said...

Thank God? UW-Madison has a diversity czar to prevent such discrimination.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Your good feeling is based on nothing more sophisticated than "we have more votes, so we can take your stuff." Successful electioneering, sure. A sound basis for ensuring the general welfare? Guess we'll see.

Better than a good feeling based on nothing more sophisticated than "we have more votes, so we can take (or dismiss) your labor." Yes, noblesse oblige is infinitely better for ensuring the general welfare than is slavery, and always has been.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Let's try to explain the 85% share of extraordinary voter turnout for Obama in Philly, among people who have suffered greatly under Obama's 4 years of economic failure, who might rationally be expected to be dissatisfied with the incumbent.

Yes, let's. Let's explain it in terms of a Republican governor in Pennsylvania who tried to take away the right for public transportation commuters and the elderly in Philadelphia to vote. Seems to me they resented that partisan nonsense, responded appropriately, and still understand, as urbanites everywhere do, that blaming the chief for the failures of his legislators to procure favors for those who were hurting the least, was too corrupt even for them.

Aren't these Karl Rove antics getting old? What is so hard to believe about the fact that the heinous tactic of making an economy worse so that you can blame someone else for it was not rewarded? Mitch McConnell's openly avowed strategy for turning the president into a one-term guy was rejected. Maybe you've never had to contend with someone not only blaming their failures on you, but their attempts to make it look even worse. Methinks urban voters could see through this hollow and disgusting strategy and rejected it soundly.

There's Romney's explanation, which is that they prefer the certainty of government benefits to the possibility of actual employment through a change of policy. I consider that a reasonable explanation, not a vilification.

Blah blah blah blah blah Tea Party Congress can't accept responsibility for their record-breaking disapproval and attempts to worsen the economy just because they thought it would redound to Obama's detriment. Boo Hoo.

Another possible explanation is that those voters were motivated primarily by a sense of ethnic solidarity that trumped considerations of their own economic self-interest.

This sounds like slave-owner talk.

Enough with the demagoguery.

I find the latter explanation far more disturbing, yet it seems to be the preferred narrative among Democrats.

Except for the part when you assume the economic self-interest of privileged old whites and the ignorant poor who support them is somehow less ethnically motivated and more economically motivated than other groups voting to reject that bullshit paradigm.

Synova said...

If you believe that truth has a left-ward slant then it's not discrimination it's just refusing to hire someone who isn't very smart.

Granted, this allows you to travel throughout your life never having to have your truth challenged by admitting that other legitimate points of view exist.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Granted, this allows you to travel throughout your life never having to have your truth challenged by admitting that other legitimate points of view exist.

So every challenge to a point of view is equally legitimate? That sounds a lot like the cultural relativism (often conflated with moral relativism) that conservatives hate so much. Alternatively, it could be taken as an effort at achieving the sort of ideological diversity that conservatives hate so much when applied to the sorts of natural diversity inherent in the human condition, and therefore can't do much about other than to celebrate.

Synova said...

Natural inherent diversity "good"?

Because you can't help it?

Optional willful diversity "bad"?

Because you have a choice?

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Natural inherent diversity "good"?

Because you can't help it?


I suppose if you prefer to lament the fact that linguistic, cultural and ethnic diversity exists (and always has), you could choose to do so. Although it would be hard for anyone to see a reason for why you would do this other than for the possibility that one is an old scag who hates the fact that others unlike yourself exist, and would prefer to to castigate them on the same basis that the Klan and other jingoistic elements have done so - with nothing useful to be shown for that impulse throughout history wherever and whenever it has raised its ugly head.

Optional willful diversity "bad"?

Because you have a choice?


So you are praising difference for its own sake? That's fine. But ideologies should have rational bases in order for others to respect them.

There is no rational basis for placing one's physical autonomy over their own body under the auspices of the government and defining soul-hood as a genetic quality, other than for the fact that at one point you could demagogue these and related ideas to the ignorant and emotionally unrestrained.

Chip S. said...

Ritmo said...Let's explain it in terms of a Republican governor in Pennsylvania who tried to take away the right for public transportation commuters and the elderly in Philadelphia to vote.

Yes, Ritmo, the Dems act as if voter ID requirements would cost them elections. Apparently they're not sure they could still get 100% of the vote in those 59 Philly precincts, or 85% citywide, with it.

Yet somehow those people who you believe do not have access to valid ID manage to get Supplemental Nutrition Assistance (f.k.a. "food stamps"), despite these requirements:

[People not already getting SSI payments] must take or send their SNAP applications to the local SNAP office or to any Social Security office where a SNAP representative works.

When you are interviewed, you also should have:

Identification such as a driver’s license, state ID, birth certificate or alien card;


IOW, your claim is 100% bullshit.

I don't know how anyone of good faith can be unconcerned by the erosion of confidence that results from the kind of bullshit that was common in Philly on election day.

Ritmo said...Except for the part when you assume the economic self-interest of privileged old whites and the ignorant poor who support them is somehow less ethnically motivated and more economically motivated than other groups voting to reject that bullshit paradigm.

What a load of horseshit. Try dealing in the most rudimentary facts instead some sort of marxist class-struggle fantasy. For example:

Today’s 14.1 percent black unemployment rate is almost twice the 7.4 percent white rate, and the racial gap -- after narrowing from 2005 to 2009 -- has widened since the recession’s June 2009 end. At Obama’s inauguration, 7.1 percent of whites were jobless compared with 12.7 percent of blacks.

Blacks haven't suffered under Obama b/c "old white men" have exploited them. They have suffered b/c Obama put Obamacare and crony capitalism ahead of economic recovery, yet they voted to re-elect him. That is simple tribalism whipped up by Obama's demagoguery.

He is repellent for using it. Those who repeat it, knowing how false it is, are equally repellent.

You may now resume calling me a tool of the slave-owning class. Or am I a slave-owner myself?

EMD said...

Ritmo -- professional penny on the train tracks of life.

Alex said...

Whenever Ritmo chooses to enter a thread, 50% of the ensuing bytes are his.

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Yes, Ritmo, the Dems act as if voter ID requirements would cost them elections. Apparently they're not sure they could still get 100% of the vote in those 59 Philly precincts, or 85% citywide, with it.

We know what the purpose of the bill was, because Mike Turzai said so. Google him if you're unfamiliar of the bill he pushed for and what he intended for it to do.

That doesn't mean it was successful. For one, you are also unfamiliar with the court ruling, as of election day, on its legality. The outcome was that it would be legal to ask for such ID, but illegal to require it to be provided. The court's ruling was based on the ample evidence that the Republicans had not ensured that, if implemented, its disenfranchising effects wouldn't outweigh any potential for fraud, of which virtually no cases had been documented. Therefore, the bill was held-up, as it should have been. Voting campaigns widely reminded voters that they had no obligation to provide the forms of I.D. that the Republicans could not ensure were possessed widely enough to prevent disenfranchisement, Slave Owner.

But the intent was clear. As with Jim Crow, the intent of the bill was to disenfranchise.

Given how ignorant you were of these basic facts, I see no reason to respond to the rest of your slaver rant. But it is interesting to see how far you go in denying the role of the Tea Party Congress in holding up the bills that would have expedited economic recovery. No, it's not the do-nothing white Tea Party Congress who held up recovery -- BLAME IT ON THE BLACK PRESIDENT WHO WAITED FOR THOSE BILLS TO COME TO HIS DESK!

You may now resume simultaneously indulging the politics of privilege while denying that any such thing exists.

leslyn said...

I detect the scent of victimhood in this story.

"You may now resume simultaneously indulging the politics of privilege while denying that any such thing exists." (It's an adaptable quote!)

O Ritmo Segundo said...

Oh, and Chip - Don't forget how student I.D. was excluded as an acceptable form of "Papers!". That was another sizable chunk of the intended disenfranchisement.

Kirk Parker said...

Ritmo,

What on earth makes you think student ID is a valid proof of residency?

Trashhauler said...

Ritmo wroter, "Yes, noblesse oblige is infinitely better for ensuring the general welfare than is slavery, and always has been."
_______________________

My. It takes a truly wonderful education to attain just that piquant combination of condescension and false dichotomy in the same sentence.

Largo said...

Don't feef the trolls.

Largo said...

feed*

leslyn said...

@Kirk Parker: Students must be resident 28 days before the election. The University offered to have a current registration sticker added to the ID. No sticker, no valid photo ID. Therefore, IF a voter I'D law went into effect, a student ID would be as accurate as a DL or state ID card.

Kirk Parker said...

leslyn,

Wait--are you saying in WI that a bare student ID is supposed to be valid for voting purposes??? So how about all those students banding together and suing for instate tuition, now that they're WI residents?

(When you look at the online encyclopedia entry for "people living in a state w/o legal residency", there are two photos illustrating it: an active-duty member of the military, and a college student.)

Kirk Parker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
leslyn said...

Kirk Parker said,

"Wait--are you saying in WI that a bare student ID is supposed to be valid for voting purposes??? So how about all those students banding together and suing for instate tuition, now that they're WI residents?"

Aren't these two different things?

Kirk Parker said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Kirk Parker said...

No, they are not two different things. Voting in a location is premised on the idea that you're an actual resident. So is getting in-state tuition.