June 2021 – On March 26 the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit issued its opinion on Meriwether v. Hartop, a 2018 case involving a philosophy professor at Shawnee State University in Portsmouth, Ohio. Formally reprimanded in 2016 for repeatedly refusing to address a student by the desired transgender pronoun, Dr. Nicholas Meriwether cited religious conviction and “biological reality” as the basis for his refusal.
Attorney John Bursch of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), the law firm representing Meriwether, announced that the court ruled the professor may sue the university since the school did violate his First Amendment rights.
In his majority opinion, Circuit Judge Amul Thapar noted that Meriwether was caught in a volatile social issue and punished for his personal stance without sufficient evidence.
“If professors lacked free-speech protections when teaching, a university would wield alarming power to compel ideological conformity,” wrote Thapar. “A university president could require a pacifist to declare that war is just, a civil rights icon to condemn the Freedom Riders, a believer to deny the existence of God, or a Soviet émigré to address his students as ‘comrades.’ That cannot be.”
foxnews.com, 3/28/21; thecollegepost.com, 3/29/21;