Suspended professor McAdams appears in court for summary judgments

Attorneys representing suspended professor John McAdams and Marquette University appeared in court to present their cases to a judge Feb. 2.

Both sides were seeking summary judgments, meaning a victory in the case before going to trial.

Judge David Hansher of Milwaukee County Circuit will issue an opinion as soon as possible.

If Hansher issues a victory, the losing side is expected to appeal. If Hansher does not award victory to a side, the case will go to a jury trial, currently set for June.

McAdams was suspended for a November 2014 blog post that criticized Cheryl Abbate, a graduate student who instructed a Philosophy of Ethics class. The post included ways to contact Abbate, who received crude, threatening messages. Abbate later transferred.

McAdams’ post stemmed from an after-class conversation between Abbate and an undergraduate student. Abbate did not allow the student to voice criticism of gay marriage during a class discussion. The student secretly recorded the conversation and brought it to McAdams, who wrote about it.

After being suspended for two semesters without pay, McAdams sued Marquette last year, claiming the suspension violated his contract.

McAdams’ attorney Rick Esenberg argued the contract meant Marquette would protect McAdams’ academic freedom, not limit it after negative reaction to his freedom of speech.

President Lovell said in March 2016 he would release the suspension on McAdams if he submitted a letter apologizing for his actions. McAdams responded with a five-page letter rejecting the punishment given to him.

Marquette attorney Ralph Weber argued that McAdams was in violation of the university’s values by naming Abbate and providing personal contact information, which set Abbate up for harassment.