Court Rules that School’s Diversity Interests Trump the First Amendment Rights of Administrator

In 2008, Crystal Dixon wrote a letter to her local newspaper expressing her Christian views on the subject of homosexuality.  An article appeared in the Toledo Free Press that compared the struggles of the homosexual community to those of the civil rights issues faced by blacks.  Dixon, who is black and a Christian disagreed and submitted a letter of rebuttal stating in part:

“I respectfully submit a different perspective for [the author of the original op-ed] and Toledo Free Press readers to consider. … As a Black woman … I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are ‘civil rights victims.’ Here’s why. I cannot wake up tomorrow and not be a Black woman. I am genetically and biologically a Black woman and very pleased to be so as my Creator intended.”

Her letter was written on her own time and was sent from her as a local citizen exercising her rights of free speech and religion.  She made no mention in the letter to her position at the University of Toledo where she worked as a human resources administrator.  However, a month later, Dixon received a letter of termination from Lloyd Jacobs, head of the university.  The letter stated that she was being fired for the ‘public position she took in her letter to the Toledo Free Press’.

Dixon took her termination to court in a lawsuit claiming that her First and Fourteenth Amendment rights had been violated.  The case was finally heard earlier this year and the court ruled that the university was justified in their termination of Dixon.

Her case was appealed with the help of the American Freedom Law Center (AFLC) and will be heard this week before the judicial panel of the 6th US Circuit Court of Appeals.

In their case being taken to the appeals court, her attorneys are pointing out that other officials at the University of Toledo, including Lloyd Jacobs, have had letters expressing opinions published in the local papers and no disciplinary action of any kind was taken against them.  In 2007, Carol Bresnaham, Vice Provost of the UofT, had a letter published in the Toledo Blade that identified her as the VP at UofT.  In her letter, she wrote:

“[B]igotry is to blame for those who oppose the [domestic-partner registry] law. It’s their religious beliefs, and bigotry in the name of religion is still bigotry.”

AFLC commented about this further saying:

“Bresnahan was identified by her official university position. Despite the alleged emphasis on tolerance, equality, and diversity at the university, Jacobs did not reprimand Bresnahan for her bigoted, anti-religious comments, let alone terminate her employment. And in explaining the inconsistency, Jacobs testified that ‘if you make a statement contrary to the university’s value system, that’s not fine.”

Regarding Dixon’s case, AFLC attorneys have said:

“It should be concerning to all Americans that officials at a public institution such as the University of Toledo believe they can fire someone for violating the university’s ‘value system’ even though such actions clearly violate the Constitution.”

“This case only reinforces the fact that the liberal idea of ‘diversity’ is code for the tyranny of political correctness.”

“Anti-Christian bias and bigotry is a hallmark of the ‘diversity’ crusade that is promoted in our universities and other public institutions – and this case is an egregious example of this one-way diversity and its pernicious impact on our fundamental rights.”

“Here, officials from the University of Toledo violated the Constitution by firing Ms. Dixon for exercising her First Amendment right to freedom of speech.”

This reminds me of a similar case in which Dr. Angela McCaskill was suspended from her position as the Chief Diversity Officer at Gallaudet University for signing a petition that supported traditional marriage.  Like Dixon, McCaskill had never allowed her personal opinions to affect her job, but just because she had them and expressed them as a private citizen, they both lose their jobs.

In both situations, the universities are basically dictating what their administrators are allowed to believe or think and that they are not allowed to express anything different to anyone, even when not on the job.  It doesn’t matter how horrible the rhetoric the university officials espouse as long as it is in line with the current administration.  It can be hateful, prejudice, bigoted, and insulting. It doesn’t matter as long as the top dogs agree.  But say one thing that they disagree with and you can kiss your job and career goodbye.  And the courts are allowing them to do it.

If my child were attending a college like Gallaudet or the University of Toledo, I would do everything in my power to get them to transfer to a different school as soon as possible.  The only thing that will get the school’s attention and make them think twice would be a mass exodus of students and tuition money.