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Jury Rejects Claim of Liberal Bias in Hiring at U. of Iowa Law School

A federal jury ruled on Monday that a former dean of the University of Iowa law school did not illegally discriminate against a conservative lawyer on the basis of her political beliefs when she declined to hire the woman for a teaching job, the Associated Press reports.

The long-running case stems from hiring decisions made in 2007, when the lawyer, Teresa Manning, then known as Teresa R. Wagner, was working as associate director of the law school’s writing center. Ms. Manning was one of three finalists for two advertised positions in teaching legal writing and analysis. But the law school’s dean at the time, Carolyn Jones, went along with a faculty recommendation to hire another finalist for one of the positions and not to fill the other.

Ms. Manning, a Republican, had been outspoken about her anti-abortion views and had previously worked for the Family Research Council and the National Right to Life Committee. In her lawsuit, filed in 2009, she contended that liberal professors at the school had derailed her candidacy because they disliked her political views, and that Ms. Jones’s decision had violated her First Amendment rights of political belief and association.

But several professors disputed that claim. They testified that Ms. Manning had essentially disqualified herself during the interview by saying that she would not teach analysis, a key part of the job, and would focus on writing.

Monday’s verdict, by a jury in the U.S. District Court in Davenport, Iowa, was rendered after the second trial in the case. The first trial, in 2012, ended under unusual circumstances. The jurors in 2012 also found that Dean Jones had not discriminated against Ms. Manning, but they deadlocked over a lesser count in the case that was later dismissed. A magistrate judge erroneously declared a mistrial on both counts. An appellate court last year ordered a new trial in the case.

Ms. Manning, who has accepted a job teaching writing to Virginia Tech medical students and is expected to move next month, is writing a book about her experience at Iowa. The book, Academic Injustices: One Woman’s Fight Against Bias in Higher Education and the Law, is scheduled for release in January by Encounter Books.

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