At a federal trial that starts Monday in Davenport, Wagner will argue that the law school faculty blocked her appointment because she had opposed abortion rights, gay marriage, and euthanasia while working as a lawyer for the Family Research Council and the National Right to Life Committee in Washington.
Wagner says the opposition to her was led by professor Randall Bezanson, a law clerk for Justice Harry Blackmun when he wrote the landmark Roe vs. Wade decision that legalized abortion in 1973 – an opinion Wagner spent her earlier career opposing. She says 46 of 50 faculty members who considered her appointment were Democrats, while one was Republican. Wagner will offer as evidence an e-mail from a school official who backed her candidacy warning the dean that some opposed her "because they so despise her politics (and especially her activism about it)."
Wagner declined an interview request before trial, but told Fox News in April that liberals were protective of prestigious faculty appointments. "Republicans need not apply," she said.
Lawyers representing the law school will argue that Wagner was passed over after botching an answer during a 2007 job interview with the faculty, a claim her attorney calls a pretext.
A number of studies in recent years have examined party affiliation, ideology and donations to candidates and concluded that law professors are overwhelmingly left-leaning.