AFA Sends Letter to Penn on Amy Wax

Jul 18, 2022 | Press Release

AFA Sends Letter to Penn on Amy Wax

Letter calls for end to consideration of “major sanction” against Wax

PRINCETON, NJ – The Academic Freedom Alliance (AFA) today sent a letter to the University of Pennsylvania (Penn) in defense of Professor Amy Wax, Robert Mundheim Professor of Law, after Dean Theodore W. Ruger of the University of Pennsylvania Carey Law School asked Penn’s Faculty Senate to impose “a major sanction” on Professor Wax for dozens of her public statements and several teaching decisions.

“We regard this as a threat to Professor Wax’s tenure and her employment as a professor at the Law School, and a grave violation of her academic freedom,” wrote Janet Halley and Lucas E. Morel, co-chairs of the AFA’s Academic Committee, in the letter to President M. Elizabeth Magill. “The AFA now asks that the University Faculty Senate conclude its current consideration of Dean Ruger’s referral letter.”

Today’s letter from the AFA follows a previous letter that the organization sent to Penn defending Professor Wax’s academic freedom on January 16, 2022. As noted in this previous letter, Dean Ruger initially issued a statement saying that Wax’s comments were protected by principles of academic freedom. Since then, the AFA has learned of Dean Ruger’s calls for sanctions against Professor Wax, which were made in a letter dated March 3, 2022. 

“[Dean Ruger’s] 12-page document accuses Professor Wax of making controversial statements on issues of law and public policy—statements we regard as fully protected by principles of academic freedom—and inviting a controversial speaker to lecture to her class,” Halley and Morel write in today’s letter. “The University of Pennsylvania should take no action against Professor Wax and state unequivocally that tenure remains a fundamental protection for all of its diverse faculty as they teach as University of Pennsylvania professors and speak as private citizens.”


    The Academic Freedom Alliance is a diverse alliance of college and university faculty members who are dedicated to upholding the principles of academic freedom and professorial free speech. These principles are central to the mission of our institutions of higher education for the pursuit of truth and knowledge. The AFA is committed to defending universal principles of academic freedom and will come to the assistance of professors regardless of their individual views. As always, the AFA is not concerned with the substance or merits of a professor’s ideas but with the principle that universities should be places that tolerate controversial ideas and allow free inquiry and debate, not public opinion or political pressure, to separate error from truth.

    Learn More About the Academic Freedom Alliance

    No one, at any academic institution, should fear suppression or retaliation for speaking out publicly in any form. We encourage you to join the movement in supporting the flourishing of intellectual life and the pursuit of knowledge and truth at institutions of higher learning.