Constitutional Law

Political Discrimination Suit Against Former Dean to Go to Trial, says Appeals Court

A federal appeals court has reinstated a lawsuit against the former dean of the University of Iowa College of Law for failing to hire a part-time employee as a full-time instructor due to her conservative politics.

The district court initially granted Carolyn Jones’ motion for summary judgment, which claimed that Jones merely adopted the faculty’s position to select another candidate over Teresa Wagner, a registered Republican who was a part-time associate director in the law school’s writing center when she applied for a full-time instructor’s position. But the Eighth Circuit reversed the decision, the Wall Street Journal Law Blog reports.

In its opinion, the appeals court concluded that there was enough evidence for a reasonable jury to find that Jones’ failure to hire Teresa Wagner was motivated by political bias. The court noted, among other factors, that “after the faculty voted not to hire Wagner, then-Associate Dean John Carlson wrote to Dean Jones, expressing his concern that Wagner’s political beliefs might have played a part in that decision,” wrote Ryan Koopmans, an associate at Nyemaster Goode in Des Moines, Iowa, in a post on the blog On Brief, which focuses on appellate cases in Iowa.

The case will now head back to district court for trial.

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