Ohio Magistrate Recommends Judge Dismiss Lawsuit of Evangelical Professor Who Was Disciplined for Refusing to Use Transgender Pronouns

A magistrate in Ohio has recommended that a federal judge dismiss a lawsuit filed on behalf of an evangelical professor who says he was disciplined for refusing to alter the way he addressed students just to accommodate a transgender student.

U.S. Magistrate Judge Karen Litkovitz recommended Thursday that the U.S. District Court of Southern Ohio grant the motion filed by the Shawnee State University board of trustees to dismiss a lawsuit brought by philosophy professor Nicholas Meriwether.

Meriwether, who has worked at the school since 1996, was aided by his attorneys at the Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) in contending that the university violated his free speech rights by dictating how he should refer to students in his political philosophy class last year to avoid offending a trans-identified student.

However, the magistrate reasoned that the professor’s First Amendment rights were not being restricted by the public university because Meriwether is a government employee.

“Speech by a government employee is protected under the First Amendment only if the speech was made ‘as a citizen’ while addressing ‘a matter of public concern,’” Litkovitz’s recommendation filing reads. “A government employee’s speech is made ‘as a citizen’ and is protected under the First Amendment only when the speech is not ‘pursuant to [the employee’s] duties.’”

In response to Litkovitz’s recommendation, ADF plans to file an objection to the magistrate’s recommendation with the district court in which it will argue that Litkovitz “misinterpreted and misapplied the law.”

“Dr. Nicholas Meriwether remains committed to serving all students with respect, but he cannot express all messages or endorse all ideologies,” ADF Senior Counsel Travis Barham said in a statement.  “When the university tried to force him to do this and then punished him for exercising his rights, it violated the First Amendment.”

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SOURCE: Christian Post, Samuel Smith