Firing of former Michigan Assistant Atty General for ‘hate speech’ upheld

Ruling states Andrew Shirvell engaged in 'physical and mental harassment of gay college student

Firing of former Michigan Assistant Atty General for ‘hate speech’ upheld
27 March 2012

A state hearing officer in Michigan ruled on Tuesday (27 March) that Andrew Shirvell, a one-time assistant attorney general for the state, was justly fired in 2010 for his harassment of a gay student leader.

William Hutchens of the Michigan Civil Service Commission said Shirvell engaged in 'hate speech' on a blog and 'physical and mental harassment' of then University of Michigan Student Body President Christopher Armstrong.

Shirvell was appealing his November 2010 firing by then-Attorney General Mike Cox for 'conduct unbecoming a state employee, especially that of an assistant attorney general.'

Shirvell had been engaged in a one-man campaign against Armstrong, showing up at public events to condemn what he called Armstrong’s 'radical homosexual agenda.'

He also showed up at Armstrong's home three times – including once at 1:30 a.m., harassed Armstrong's friends as they were socializing, tried to get him fired from his job and posted online attacks about the student.

Shirvell maintained that his conduct was protected by the First Amendment.

But at the time of Shirvell's firing, Cox explicitly said was was not firing him for expressing himself. Instead, he was firing Shirvell for repeatedly violating office policies, engaging in borderline stalking behavior, and inappropriately using state resources.

In upholding the firing, Hutchens said Shirvell's actions put the Attorney General's office in a bad light and could have discouraged people from working there.

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