A university professor who was punished by his employer for refusing to use the preferred pronouns of a student has won a major victory in a lawsuit filed to protect his first amendment freedoms.
Shawnee State University disciplined Dr. Nicholas Meriwether for refusing to refer to a male student with female descriptions, but the two parties initially came to a compromise. According to the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), who filed the suit on Meriwether’s behalf, the philosophy professor agreed to refer to the student by first or last name, however the university later backed out of the agreement, threatening further actions.
Shawnee State University officials punished a philosophy professor, Dr. Nicholas Meriwether, because he declined a male student’s demand to be referred to as a woman with feminine titles and pronouns (“Miss,” “she,” etc.) Although Dr. Meriwether offered to use the student’s preferred first or last name instead. Initially, the University accepted that compromise, only to reverse course days later. Ultimately, it punished him by putting a written warning in his personnel file and threatened “further corrective actions” unless he spoke contrary to his own philosophical and Christian convictions.
A federal judge initially dismissed the case but the ADF appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 6th Circuit. After weaving its way through the legal process, the ADF has announced that Meriwether has made a “favorable settlement” with the university. He will receive $400,000 in damages and attorney fees from Shawnee State University.
In a statement quoting the previous ruling form the 6th Circuit, the ADF says that institutions like universities cannot be allowed to compel “ideological conformity.”
The 6th Circuit explained that if “professors lacked free-speech protections when teaching, a university would wield alarming power to compel ideological conformity. 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.”
In April 2022, Dr. Meriwether’s case concluded with a favorable settlement, in which the university agreed to pay $400,000 in damages and attorney’s fees, rescind the written warning it issued in June 2018, and affirm his right to address students consistent with his beliefs.
This is the way forward. Conservatives and those right-of-center have been trying to live and let live for long enough. That street is only accessible if it runs two ways. It does not. The only way the alt-left ideologues will snap out of their foggy delusions is if they are made to play by their own rules and are made to and made then made to pay the consequences when they do.