A federal magistrate judge recently recommended to a district court that it dismiss a professor’s lawsuit against Shawnee State University, which forced the professor to use transgender pronouns against his beliefs.
Professor Nicholas Meriwether sued the university, its board of trustees, and several other officials in November 2018, claiming the school retaliated against him when he refused to refer to a biologically male student as a female.
According to the lawsuit, “a male student demanded that Dr. Meriwether address him as a woman because he identified as such and threatened to have Dr. Meriwether fired if he declined.”
“To accede to these demands would have required Dr. Meriwether to communicate views regarding gender identity that he does not hold, that he does not wish to communicate, and that would contradict (and force him to violate) his sincerely held Christian beliefs,” the lawsuit continues. “Thus, he declined but offered to use whatever proper name the student preferred to accommodate this student and to make him feel as comfortable as possible without violating his own deeply-held beliefs and convictions.”
Meriwether filed the lawsuit with the pro-bono legal assistance of Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF). The lawsuit reveals that the student “complained to the university,” which in turn “sought to silence” and punish Meriwether.
“Defendants have retaliated against Dr. Meriwether for exercising his First Amendment rights, have violated his First Amendment rights to free speech and free exercise of religion, have violated the unconstitutional conditions doctrine, have deprived him of due process and equal protection of law, have denied him his right to exercise his religion under the Ohio constitution, and have breached their contract with him,” the lawsuit adds.
The lawsuit was filed in the U.S. District Court for the Southern District of Ohio, and on September 5 U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Litkovitz recommended that the court dismiss the lawsuit.
“Dr. Nicholas Meriwether remains committed to serving all students with respect, but he cannot express all messages or endorse all ideologies,” said Travis Barham, senior counsel for ADF.
“When the university tried to force him to do this and then punished him for exercising his rights, it violated the First Amendment,” he continued. “Because the magistrate judge misinterpreted and misapplied the law, we plan to explain to the district court why it shouldn’t adopt those recommendations and should instead rule in favor of Dr. Meriwether, whose constitutionally protected freedoms we will continue to defend.”
ADF attorney Tyson Langhofer and Meriwether then appeared on Fox News to discuss the case with host Shannon Bream.
“Well, it’s important to remember that the university is to be a marketplace of ideas and not merely an assembly line for one type of thought,” Meriwether said. “And in this particular case, I was being required to endorse an ideology that I do not hold. I don’t think that public universities should be in the business of requiring people to endorse or express ideologies that they don’t hold.”
Bream, Langhofer, and Meriwether were then smeared by the leftist Media Matters for “serially” misgendering trans people, which “is stigmatizing and considered harassment.”
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Anthony Gockowski is managing editor of Battleground State News, The Ohio Star, and The Minnesota Sun. Follow Anthony on Twitter. Email tips to [email protected].
Photo “Nicholas Meriwether” by Shawnee State. Background Photo “Shawnee State” by Shawnee State.