College settles with professor in absolutely free speech situation over pronoun use

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University settles with professor in absolutely free speech situation more than pronoun use

Heather Hamilton

April 17, 10:22 AM April 17, 10:22 AM

A Shawnee State College professor has settled for $400,000 in a lawsuit in opposition to his employer, arguing it was within his First Amendment rights to refuse working with the preferred pronouns of a college student who identifies as female.

Nicholas Meriwether, a Shawnee philosophy professor, was issued a penned rebuke following a 2018 Title IX investigation into the problem, prompting the lawsuit, which was initially dismissed in February 2020, when a lower district court docket found there had been no “broader societal problems,” but revived by the 6th U.S. Circuit Courtroom of Appeals.

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Shawnee Condition University, situated in Portsmouth, Ohio, agreed to settle the scenario Thursday. Alliance Defending Freedom, which represented Meriwether, unveiled a statement stating the college “agreed to shell out $400,000 in damages and Meriwether’s attorneys’ service fees. Additionally, contemplating the 6th Circuit’s ruling, the college is rescinding the composed warning it issued Meriwether.”

Shawnee State University issued a statement declaring its decision to settle was produced for economic explanations.

“Though we have resolved to settle, we adamantly deny that any individual at Shawnee Point out deprived Dr. Meriwether of his free of charge speech legal rights or his rights to freely exercising his faith,” the assertion reported. “Over the system of this lawsuit, it turned obvious that the situation was being applied to advance divisive social and political agendas at a price to the college and its students. That expense is improved used on satisfying Shawnee State’s mission of assistance to our learners, people and community.”

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ADF praised the consequence, noting that “the college has agreed that Meriwether has the right to decide on when to use, or steer clear of using, titles or pronouns when referring to or addressing learners. Appreciably, the university agreed Meriwether will by no means be mandated to use pronouns, like if a pupil requests pronouns that conflict with his or her organic sex.”

In the circumstance, Meriwether argued he was standing by his Christian beliefs in refusing to use the favored pronouns of the pupil and that he instead offered to simply call his students by either “Mr.” or “Ms.” and their last identify, or merely by their final name.

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“Dr. Meriwether went out of his way to accommodate his pupils and take care of them all with dignity and respect, but his university punished him because he wouldn’t endorse an ideology that he thinks is false,” ADF Senior Counsel Travis Barham claimed. “We’re pleased to see the university acknowledge that the 1st Amendment ensures Dr. Meriwether — and each and every other American — the suitable to communicate and act in a fashion constant with one’s religion and convictions.”

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