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How Conservative is Too Conservative for a Law Professor?

By Stephanie Rabiner, Esq. on January 19, 2012 | Last updated on March 21, 2019

New year, same problem. The issue of political diversity amongst law professors has come up yet again -- this time thanks to Teresa Wagner and the 8th Circuit.

The appellate court has unanimously agreed to reinstate her lawsuit against the University of Iowa College of Law. A conservative Republican, she claims that she was denied employment because of her political beliefs.

The suit even names professor Randall Bezanson as her "primary, vocal opponent." He clerked for Justice Blackmun during Roe v. Wade while she's actively involved with the National Right to Life Committee.

Wagner is also involved with the Family Research Council and taught at the conservative Ave Maria, according to the New York Times. She's the definition of social conservative.

Does this make her too conservative to be a law professor?

Well, maybe at Iowa Law. Though the majority of this country's law professors are affiliated with the Democratic Party, Iowa Law is one of the most liberal law schools in the nation. There were only 2 registered Republicans on the entire faculty as of 2009, reports the Des Moines Register.

Still, this doesn't mean Teresa Wagner should have been denied the position. She may not have fit in, but she certainly would have challenged the school's students.

John O. McGinnis, the author of a study analyzing law professor politics, also believes that most students would welcome a professor like Teresa Wagner. Today's students are more open to alternative viewpoints, he told the New York Times. They aren't as "polarized" as they used to be.

Could this mean that there really is no such thing as "too conservative" when it comes to law professors?

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