College Admin Loses First Amendment Appeal

You may remember the case of Crystal Dixon, a human resources administrator at the University of Toledo who was fired for writing an anti-gay op-ed column for a local newspaper. She filed a First Amendment lawsuit, lost at the district court level and now the 6th Circuit Court of Appeals has upheld that ruling. You can read the full ruling here.

A three-judge panel of the Cincinnati-based 6th U.S. District Court of Appeals upheld a lower court’s ruling that dismissed a lawsuit filed by Crystal Dixon against the university and its leaders.

In her lawsuit, Dixon argued that her firing over the April 2008 op-ed in the Toledo Free Press that she wrote was a violation of her free speech rights, because she wrote it as a private citizen, not on behalf of the university.

The panel rejected that argument, saying that her public comments went against the very policies that the university wanted her to create and enforce as the associate vice president for human resources, and that the speech wasn’t protected.

In the op-ed, Dixon wrote that as a black woman, she takes “great umbrage” at comparisons between gay rights and civil rights because gay people can choose a different lifestyle, while black people cannot change their skin color.

This is not an open and shut case. As a general rule, I favor maximum free speech rights in such cases. But the nature of her role in administering the university’s anti-discrimination policies makes this a unique situation. How could they trust her to enforce those rules objectively when she has publicly said she does not believe they are valid?

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