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Will 'diversity' beat 1st Amendment in Round 2?

The fight over the “tyranny” of higher education’s “diversity” agenda is taking center stage, with judges in the 6th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals hearing arguments on whether a university can fire an administrator for expressing an opinion that conflicts with the institution’s adopted political perspective.

“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,” said David Yerushalmi of the American Freedom Law Center.

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

Robert Muise, co-founder of the AFLC, is scheduled tomorrow to argue before the appeals judges on behalf of Crystal Dixon, a former human resources administrator at the University of Toledo.

She was dismissed in 2008 for expressing her personal, Christian viewpoint about homosexuality in a letter to a local newspaper.

Dixon is appealing a district court’s decision that the school’s “diversity” interests were more important than the First Amendment.

“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,” said Muise.

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

Oral arguments in the case are scheduled before the court tomorrow, but a decision could be some weeks away.

It was April 3, 2008, when Dixon read an opinion piece published in the Toledo Free Press that compared homosexuality to the civil rights struggles of African-Americans.

Crystal Dixon

“Dixon, an African-American and practicing Christian, disagreed with this comparison and subsequently submitted her own opinion piece to express her personal viewpoint,”  AFLC reported.

“Dixon’s opinion piece, published on April 18, 2008, in the newspaper’s online edition, stated, in relevant part, “I respectfully submit a different perspective for [the author of the original op-ed] and Toledo Free Press readers to consider . … I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are civil rights victims.”

She signed only her name and made no mention of her position at the university.

One month later, Dixon got a letter from Lloyd Jacobs, head of the university, terminating her employment over “the public position you have taken in the Toledo Free Press.”

She sued over First and 14th Amendment violations.

Earlier this year, a trial judge said the school’s actions were proper.

“Surprisingly, on other occasions, university employees, including its president, Dr. Lloyd Jacobs, have publicly expressed personal opinions and viewpoints about various political and social issues in the local newspapers without any adverse consequences,” the law firm noted.

“In fact, the vice provost of the University, Carol Bresnahan, was quoted in the Toledo Blade in December 2007 as stating, ‘[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.'”

“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,'” the law firm said.

Dixon’s attorneys argue that the university is demanding it “prescribe what ‘shall be orthodox’ in matters of opinion.”

Dixon, writing as a private individual about her beliefs, said, “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.”