Thursday, April 1, 2021
The court’s ruling is worth reading in full. The evident incompetence and malice of the administration is impressive, as it initially flip-flops on whether an acceptable compromise is possible and then descends into open hostility toward Meriwether, including (but, as lawyers say, not limited to) open mockery, derision of his faith, and an investigation for which he was not asked to provide any witnesses. The court also identifies the university’s flip-flopping and hostility to Meriwether’s religious views as evidence that the matter was not about applying an established policy in a neutral way but rather about targeting the professor for his Christian beliefs. Policies are supposed to provide a clear framework for assessing behavior. Not, apparently, at Shawnee State. It will be truly shameful if nobody at the university loses his job as a result of this malicious farce.
But the less-than-divine comedy that Professor Meriwether has had to endure has led to one good outcome: the verdict of the Sixth Circuit and its accompanying rationale. While university administrators around the country seem to be reconfiguring their job descriptions in order to be caregivers for the tender consciences of an era when politics is therapy, the judges of the Sixth Circuit retain an understanding of what education and its various institutions are actually meant to do.