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OVERVIEW

In the case of Meriwether v. Hartop et al, 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, No. 20-3289, a professor of philosophy had instituted a lawsuit against one public university, Shawnee State University in southern Ohio. The case in the Federal appeals court was that such professor had been reprimanded by such University for his refusal to address one student belonging to the transgender community by pronouns preferred by her.

Nicholas Meriwether, a professor who had taught at the Shawnee State University since 1996, had been served with a written warning when he continued to address a trans female student as ‘Sir’, after repeated corrections from the other end, and requests for addressing such student by her preferred ‘she/ her’ pronoun. Such warning rebuked him for his conduct towards such student, and said that he could be punished with a suspension without pay or might even lose his job for violation of the University’s non discrimination policy. 

BACKGROUND

Nicholas Meriwether instituted a suit in the month of November, 2018, and claimed in his plea that, “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 belief.”

A U.S. District Judge granted his judgement in favour of the public University and dismissed such suit.

The aggrieved professor approached the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals in May, and sought justice arguing that “professors do not ‘leave their First Amendment rights at the campus gates.’”

The University stated in a statement they released with respect to the suit, “We have maintained throughout this case that the facts show that every effort was made by Shawnee State to respect the rights of free speech and protect all individuals from discrimination, inside and outside of the classroom.” 

FURTHER DETAILS

The 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals provided Professor of philosophy, Dr. Nicholas Meriwether, with the way out of attempting to prove that the public University, Shawnee State University had violated not only his First Amendment right of free speech but also his religious rights by mandating him to adhere to such pronouns while addressing the student that he claimed to having failed to reflect "biological reality" as well as totally contradicted his devout Christian beliefs.
Circuit Judge Amul Thapar, on behalf of the 3 Judge panel, stated in their communication that the conduct of Professor Meriwether in this regard was nothing of a grave concern since his refusal to use such feminine pronouns did not affect his responsibility towards the university in any way. 

It was observed that such conduct did not affect his job or hampered the operations conducting in the daily course of events in such school. It also did not deny any of the educational benefits to the students who were under his guidance. 

He had been simply acting by communicating on a "hotly contested" matter of public concern of whether the sex of a person can be altered during his lifetime.

CONCLUSION 

Judge Amol Thapar, who had been appointed in such such by the former U.S. President Donald Trump, wrote in his judgement that, "If professors lacked free-speech protections when teaching, a university would wield alarming power to compel ideological conformity." 

The lawyer representing Meriwether, by the name John Bursch, who was a lawyer at the conservative nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom, agreed with such decision and appreciated thus, "Nobody should be forced to contradict their core beliefs just to keep their job."

Judge Thapar further held in his judgement that, "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."


WHAT IS YOUR OPINION REGARDING THE REFUSAL OF THE PROFESSOR TO ADDRESS SUCH TRANSGENDER STUDENT BY HER PREFERRED PRONOUNS? HOW DO YOU FEEL ABOUT THE VIOLATION OF THE RIGHT TO FREEDOM OF SPEECH CONFERRED ON THE US CITIZENS BY THE FIRST AMENDMENT? CAN YOU CO-RELATE THE TWO?  DO LET US KNOW IN THE COMMENTS BELOW!
 

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