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Court: Free Speech Doesn’t Mean You Can Refuse to Use Trans Pronouns

According to U.S. District Court Judge Susan Dlott, the First Amendment covers a lot of ground. But if you think that it protects you from having to use a transgender individual’s preferred pronouns, you’ve got another think coming.

Shawnee State University Professor Nicholas Meriwether found that out firsthand last week after bringing a lawsuit against his employers.

The situation kicked off in January 2018, when Meriwether, an evangelical Christian, met a new student attending his philosophy course. The student, Alena Bruening, is a biological male who currently identifies as female, as is the newfangled trend. Bruening demanded that Professor Meriwether address him using only female pronouns: “she/her/hers.”

Professor Meriwether, being grounded in reality, refused to play into Bruening’s delusions and informed him that he’d be using the pronouns and honorariums that align with that reality.

Bruening, offended, “became belligerent and said, ‘Well, I guess that means I can call you a c**t.’”

In a normal world, this would have been the end of Bruening’s academic pursuits at Shawnee State University. In this one, Meriwether attempted to find an acceptable compromise. He reported the incident to college officials and explained that he would strike a deal: He was “not willing to refer to Bruening as a woman,” but he would simply use the student’s last name instead of attaching a “Mr.” to it, as he did with other students in the class.

Shawnee State administrators launched an investigation into the situation. At the conclusion of that investigation, they did not, as you might have imagined, suspend or expel Bruening. And they didn’t agree to Meriwether’s offered compromise.

Of course not.

Instead, they determined that Professor Meriwether had “created a hostile environment for Bruening,” and they issued him a warning for violating the school’s “nondiscriminatory policy.”

Instead of accepting that he had to deny biological reality in order to keep his job, Meriwether enlisted the services of the legal nonprofit Alliance Defending Freedom and filed suit against the school, accusing them of punishing him for “expressing views that differ from its own orthodoxy and for declining to express its mandated ideological message.”

In dismissing the lawsuit last week, Judge Dlott concluded that Meriwether “was not protected by the First Amendment.”

“The speech here occurred in the context of plaintiff’s employment,” she wrote in her opinion. “It was limited to titles and pronouns used to address one student in plaintiff’s class: the speech was directed to plaintiff and heard only by her and her fellow students; and absent any further explanation or elaboration, the speech cannot reasonably be construed as having conveyed any beliefs or stated any facts about gender identity.”

In addition to being wrong, this ruling is remarkable in its cowardice: If Meriwether had to address Bruening with feminine pronouns over the school’s loudspeaker, would he have a case?  What if he had to do it on the local news? We didn’t realize that the First Amendment’s power was limited by the number of immediate observers.

In remarks to Campus Reform, Meriwether vowed to appeal the decision.

“I found the district court’s ruling both disappointing and troubling,” he said. “I make it a point to treat all my students with dignity and respect, and so I proposed multiple ways to accommodate this student that would not have required me to compromise my beliefs. I encourage my students to express their political and religious views, and professors should have the same freedom.

“But the University insisted that I endorse an ideology I do not believe is true,” he continued. “This is simply wrong. True tolerance must be a two-way street. Now the district court suggests that professors have no free speech rights, which should trouble us all.”

Yes, yes it should.

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Written by Andrew


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  1. Hey you disrespectful U.S. District Court Judge Susan Dlott

    your judgement on forcing heterosexual people call others that are man wanting instead

    to be recognize as a women and women as men

    you are a very corrupt and sick demented individual for comanding such a judgement demand

    and you need to forced to do something totally against what your moral compass

    which it doesn’t seem you have anymore

    I do not believe that you need to be a part of our US Powers anymore and I hope

    and I can only that you are removed as immediately as possible

    💥💞👍CHRISTrumPence our/his US ReTRUMPlican Lawmakers 2016-2028 successfully US Landslide Reelected assuredly
    Amen & Amen👍💞💥

  2. Simply put, we who have sat by and let the left push the acceptance of all this ignorant wayward lifestyle has caused us to lose our rights to live in dignity and respect. We have been pushed to tolerate and accept such intolerance people that it will be nearly impossible to restore a responsible society. Disgusting anti-American Judges are destroying the fiber that has made America great.

    • This blatant disregard for the 1st amendment is not going to stand the first challenge. People call me sir all of the time. I’m 65 and white haired. What if I objected to that? Do I have the right to infringe on another for addressing me that way? No. Is it Offensive? No. If I call a woman, Ma’am, is that offensive? No. If Ma’am offends the woman, she needs to keep it to herself and stop bullying everyone around her. If a Man is wearing a dress, or pretending to be a woman, we do not have to humor him, coddle him or an any way go out of our way to bolster the delusion that he is fooling anyone. Has anyone heard the story of the “King’s new clothes?” The Judge is an idiot and a pandering enabler. Get over yourselves and move on with your life. Mostly, stop bullying and Judge, grow up.

  3. Maybe Anatomy should be taught in Kindergarten. Any He thinking He’s a She or She thing She’s a He should be called an IT and save everyone a whole lot of angst.

  4. Gods procedure seems to be “God makes you at birth, what you are”. Be happy that he made “you” at all. I don’t think that there are any ‘laws’ made by ‘MAN’ that should let you change what God has done. I wonder if you are living a ‘miserable,’ one time only life, in this world? God has a plan for all of us and you seem to be saying that God did it wrong.

  5. If the left take over this country then let the muslims and communist have free run, the alphabet people will be the first they kill, along with the Christians. Then anyone that doesn’t bow down and worship them.

  6. I WILL use NO TRANS pronouns, as per MY 1st Amendment RIGHTS! . . . and NO judge will EVER force me OTHERWISE. This is CONFUSION and an ABOMINATION as per the Word of God AND Biology (check DNA!). There are ONLY MEN and WOMEN – and NOTHING else. Team Trump and his allies 2020.

  7. This is getting out of hand. If I’m ever on trial for not using someone’s preferred pronoun, I want them to give the whole history of the pronoun and a complete statement of how not using the preferred pronoun caused him/her/it harm!

  8. Why didn’t the transexual just pass a note to the Prof. and request that he address her as Miss or her or she? These accidents of nature do NOTHING discretely and are always looking to sue someone or strip them of their job.. Reminds me of the very masculine built like a bar bouncer went into a spa and demanded that a female “Wax his balls”. He sued and lost.

  9. Now we have the gross minority wagging the dog of the vast majority. Somehow the Dems proclamation of our nation being a democracy where the majority rules is meaningless. We are a Constitutional republic meaning the rights of the minority are protected, but only as it pertains to equal rights and not special rights because an individual has decided in his or her mental delusion to change genders mentally, but not biologically. There individuals ought to be referred to mental health professionals.

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