Wisconsin Supreme Court sides with suspended professor in dispute against Marquette University

MILWAUKEE -- The Wisconsin Supreme Court has sided with a suspended professor in his dispute with Marquette University. The state's highest court ruled 4-2 in favor of professor John McAdams. 

"It was probably a combination of being elated and being relieved," said McAdams.  

McAdams will be able to return to his job for the first time since he wrote a blog post that criticized a graduate student for how she handled controversy in the classroom. It's been 3 and a half years since McAdams stood in front of a Marquette University classroom. 

"I enjoy teaching a lot so it means I'll be doing what I really like doing," he said. 

Marquette University administration isn't pleased. 

"I think everyone is surprised that this detailed faculty hearing committee report of 123 pages was called a distraction by the majority opinion," said Marquette Lawyer Ralph Weber.  

McAdams was indefinitely suspended by Marquette in 2014 for slamming a student teacher in a blog post. The graduate student told a student after class that  he didn't have the right to voice opposition in a discussion about gay marriage. McAdams sued the university two years ago arguing freedom of speech and  what's called 'academic freedom', which is covered in his employment contract.. 

"That's not academic freedom, that's cyber bullying," Weber argued.  

Weber said McAdams shouldn't have shared the graduate student's name or a link to her blog which contained contact information. 

"He painted a target on her back so that the unstable in our society could attack her," Weber said. "That's not OK." 

When asked if McAdams would handle a similar situation differently in the future, he replied, "Pretty much the same way. The question is would I name the instructor. I would have to try to figure out what the probability is that she'd get a lot of nasty emails." 

Weber said Marquette won't appeal this ruling. McAdams will receive back pay from the university. Weber said McAdams hasn't been paid since the summer of 2016. 

McAdams said it's likely too late for him to teach this fall, but he fully intends to be back next spring. 

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