Renowned professor challenges promotion denial over religion in appellate hearing

ADF attorney available for media interviews following oral arguments challenging UNC-Wilmington’s discrimination against Christian professor over opinion columns
Tuesday, January 25, 2011

WHO: ADF Senior Counsel David French
WHAT: Available for media interviews after hearing in Adams v. Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington
WHEN: Wednesday, January 26, following oral arguments; The first hearing of the day begins at 9:30a.m. EST
WHERE: U.S. Court of Appeals for the 4th Circuit, 1000 E. Main St., Richmond

RICHMOND, Va. — Alliance Defense Fund Senior Counsel David French will be available for media interviews Wednesday following his oral arguments at a hearing in Adams v. Board of Trustees of the University of North Carolina-Wilmington.  ADF is representing UNC criminology professor Mike Adams, who contends that he was unconstitutionally denied a promotion because his application referenced his nationally syndicated opinion columns that espoused religious and political views not held by university officials. Wednesday’s hearing is an appeal of an unfavorable lower court decision against Adams.

“Christian professors should not be discriminated against because of their beliefs. Disagreeing with an accomplished professor’s religious and political views is no grounds for refusing him promotion,” said French. “Opinion columns are some of the clearest examples of free speech protected by the First Amendment. Mentioning them on a promotion application does not change that.”

A former atheist, 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. However, after his conversion to Christianity in 2000, Adams was subjected to intrusive investigations, baseless accusations, and the denial of promotion to full professor, even though his scholarly output surpassed that of almost all of his colleagues.

ADF attorneys representing Adams sued UNCW in April 2007, A federal court denied the university’s motion to dismiss the lawsuit in 2008, but then ruled against Adams last March. ADF attorneys appealed the district court decision and filed an opening brief in June 2010. The following month, The American Association of University Professors, the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education, and the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression filed a joint friend-of-the-court brief supporting Adams’ appeal.

ADF is a legal alliance of Christian attorneys and like-minded organizations defending the right of people to freely live out their faith. Launched in 1994, ADF employs a unique combination of strategy, training, funding, and litigation to protect and preserve religious liberty, the sanctity of life, marriage, and the family.