The Sixth Circuit Court ruled unanimously a First Amendment lawsuit filed by an Ohio professor against his employer could proceed after he refused to use a student’s “preferred pronouns.” Left-wing outlets are warning the decision legalizes open discrimination.
A federal circuit court ruled in favor of an Ohio professor suing his employer for attempting to compel him to use a student’s preferred pronouns.
- Nicholas Meriwether, a professor at Shawnee State University, claimed his First Amendment rights were violated when university officials forced him to “speak in a way that contradicts his Christian beliefs.”
- The university, according to the Sixth Circuit Court’s opinion, was “derisive and scornful” of Meriwether and his religious convictions, with one school employee suggesting that Christians should not be allowed to teach any courses on Christianity because they are “primarily motivated out of fear.”
- The circuit court’s decision sends Meriwether’s lawsuit back to a lower court, which had previously dismissed his case saying the speech code was part of his job and not a violation of his First Amendment rights.
- The Washington Post’s reporting, aside from getting the timeline of events incorrect, emphasized an opinion of a constitutional law professor that believes the court’s ruling opens the door racial discrimination under the umbrella of the First Amendment.
- Inside Higher Ed quoted the same professor as The Washington Post, who wrote in The Hill that “teachers at public colleges will have a constitutional right to subject their students to bigoted slurs.”
- Activist outlet LGBTQNation.com labeled the non-profit speech defense group representing Meriwether “an anti-LGBTQ hate group” according to the discredited Southern Poverty Law Center.
- Fox News’ coverage leaned heavily on the court’s opinion, framing the case as one in which a university would have “alarming power to compel ideological conformity” if professors were not given First Amendment protections in the classroom.
- The Post Millennial’s rundown of the story structures the narrative as one in which the student in question and the university’s actions were hostile towards Meriwether from the start, citing Meriwether’s recollection of his first interaction with the student (who was given a “high grade” in the class for “very good work” and “frequent participation”).
- The New York Post highlighted that the Sixth Circuit Court’s ruling was unanimous, a fact rarely reported in most other outlets, saying Meriwether’s right to free exercise of religion was violated by the university forcing him to “address student in the terms of their choosing.”
- Conservative blog RedState characterized Meriwether’s success in the federal court as a win against “cancel culture.”
© Dallas Gerber, 2021