At University, Charges of Religious Prof-iling
At the University of North Carolina Wilmington, Dr. Mike Adams teaches crime -- but he never dreamed he'd be the victim of one. Unfortunately for the assistant professor, that all changed when his ideology did. When he was hired as a criminology expert 21 years ago, Adams was an avowed and outspoken atheist -- a worldview that was shaken to the core when Mike went to visit a prisoner on death row in 2000. The convict, a mentally handicapped man, had read the entire Bible -- something Adams had never done. He resolved then and there to change that -- and when he did, Mike was completely transformed.
The once-vocal liberal became a passionate follower of Christ, a conversion that ultimately bled over into his political beliefs. Over time, he started writing columns and doing media appearances from a conservative perspective -- infuriating UNCW's forces of political correctness in the process. Like most universities, the faculty was a fraternity of liberals, who insist on diversity but practice anything but. After a slew of awards and accolades for his work, Mike applied for a full professorship in 2006.
Despite a glowing record, the University turned down his application. Apparently, the only promotion UNCW is interested in is the promotion of the liberal agenda. As his lead attorney, David French, writes in NRO, administrators engaged in the fiercest kind of viewpoint discrimination. It was "a process where they applied a made-up promotion standard that contradicted the faculty handbook, passed along false information about his academic record, deceptively edited documents to influence the faculty vote, explicitly discussed his constitutionally protected viewpoint, and allowed a faculty member with an obvious and outrageous conflict of interest to cast a vote against him." At one point, the University even launched an underground investigation (at the request of a transgender group) to determine if the professor was "transphobic."
Stunned, Adams sued, insisting the school had infringed on his free speech rights. After hearing the details, our friends at Alliance Defending Freedom agreed to represent Mike, and together they embarked on a seven year journey to right the University's wrong. Last week, after winding through the appeals process, Mike Adams finally got the news he was waiting for. Although UNCW officials denied that they were retaliating against Adams for his faith -- the court disagreed. After seeing the evidence, a federal jury agreed that Adams's speech was a "substantial or motivating factor" in denying him a full professorship. When pressed, UNCW officials couldn't prove that they would have made the same decision in the absence of his conservative beliefs. Although the case isn't over (the court hasn't decided what form of "relief" to grant -- nor has the school decided whether to appeal), the victory is a major one.
ADF's French understands the significance of the ruling for other conservatives oppressed by academic elites. "Dr. Adams's story has now gone from a cautionary tale of the punishment that leftist universities inflect upon dissenters to a strong signal that conservative professors can indeed fight back and prevail." As the 4th Circuit Court ruled on this same case, "No individual loses his ability to speak as a private citizen by virtue of public employment." We applaud Dr. Adams for having the courage and the will to fight back. Unfortunately, in the world of higher education, there's only one school of thought -- and it isn't tolerance.
At SCOTUS, HHS Mandate Runs Its Courts
On ObamaCare's fourth birthday, most Americans probably wanted to blow out the candles and wish it all away. The U.S. House has certainly tried -- holding more than 50 votes to repeal or reform the President's signature law. Starting tomorrow, though, the eyes won't be on the votes of Congress -- but the votes of nine Supreme Court justices.
After dozens of lawsuits, the high court will finally have a crack at the most outrageous part of the law: the HHS mandate. Under it, the Obama administration is ordering businesses to pay for pills or procedures that violate their beliefs -- or refuse and be severely punished. If Hobby Lobby loses its case, the family business will be forced to either pay $1.3 million in punitive fines per day or cancel health care coverage for all their employees.
The two sides are set to square off tomorrow, as Hobby Lobby and Conestoga Wood take their arguments to the Supreme Court in a last-ditch effort to preserve their rights as employers. Is America still a nation that embraces religious liberty -- or does that liberty meet its limits in the workplace? FRC experts will be inside the courtroom to track what has quickly become the most important religious freedom case of our generation. We'll also be following a special order on the House floor tonight organized by Rep. Vicky Hartzler (R-Mo.) in defense of these companies' rights.
In the meantime, you can show your support for both family businesses by joining our #HobbyLobbyDay campaign on social media! Click over to our Facebook page to find out how you can get involved. Over the weekend, Governor Mike Huckabee encouraged his Fox News audience to join him in support of #HobbyLobbyDay. If you missed his show, check out the video below.
A Michigan Schuette out over Marriage
The honeymoon for same-sex "marriage" was a short one in Michigan. Twenty-four hours after District Judge Bernard Friedman struck down the state's marriage amendment, the 6th Circuit Court came to Michigan's aid -- ordering a halt to the "weddings" that had broken out in four counties on Friday night. In some regions, clerks' offices stayed open through the night and into Saturday morning so that couples could get "married" before an emergency stay put the celebrations on ice.
Thanks to the Michigan Governor and Attorney General's offices, the amendment was back in effect by Saturday evening "to allow a more reasoned consideration of the motion." In the meantime, more than 100 couples are demanding the state recognize their weekend nuptials -- a wish Governor Rick Snyder (R) is refusing to grant. Despite the 24 hours of legal chaos, Snyder is putting the recognition of those "marriages" on hold until the appeals process plays itself out.
Like Utah, Oklahoma, Virginia, and Texas, Michigan is being forced to join the club of states whose laws are the casualties of activist judges determined to make a mockery of the democratic process. The Left continues to push their social agenda into the courtrooms to demand the change that voters won't give them.
Of the 17 states where marriage has been redefined, only three had their voters' blessing. Most Americans see the issue as Michigan Attorney General Bill Schuette, who said, "Marriage is between a man and a woman, something that our courts seem to be struggling with." With states like Michigan pushing back, let's hope those judges get the message on marriage sooner rather than later.
** What does a silver necklace have to do with the abortion debate? Find out in Arina Grossu's new column for Townhall, "Paying for Abortions, One Pendant at a Time."
Tony Perkins' Washington Update is written with the aid of FRC senior writers.