A law firm representing a woman fired from a university position over an opinion column critical of the gay rights movement filed a petition of rehearing a month after a loss in court.
The petition, filed on New Year's Eve 2012 to the en banc (or full court) of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals on behalf of Crystal Dixon, was submitted in part by The American Freedom Law Center.
"Consequently, there can be no harm to the University's legitimate interests in permitting its employees to engage in a public debate in a local newspaper on a significant social issue," reads the petition. "Unfortunately, it appears that Defendants seek to monopolize the 'marketplace of ideas' by only permitting the public expression of personal opinions that comport with the official orthodoxy established by the University in violation of the First Amendment."
Robert J. Muise, co-founder and senior counsel for the AFLC, told The Christian Post that the petition came in response to the ruling by a three-judge panel of the district court last month.
"The original three-judge panel ruled against us, so we are asking the full court to rehear the case," said Muise, who explained the process to CP.
"The petition will be circulated and if the court decides to hear it, the panel decision will be vacated and we will reargue the case before an en banc panel … If the petition is denied, we will have 90 days to file a petition for a writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court."
Back in April 2008, Dixon gained national headlines when she was fired by the University of Toledo over an opinion column she wrote for the Toledo Free Press.
The piece was a rebuttal to an earlier editorial in which a contributor had argued that the gay rights movement was the modern day civil rights movement.
"As a Black woman who happens to be an alumnus of the University of Toledo's Graduate School, an employee and business owner, I take great umbrage at the notion that those choosing the homosexual lifestyle are 'civil rights victims,'" wrote Dixon.
"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."
Last month, a three-judge panel of the Sixth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the university had rightfully fired Dixon over her expressed views, arguing that they were indeed germane to her employment.
"The government's interests thus outweigh Dixon's interests as a matter of law, and we affirm the district court's grant of summary judgment to the defendants on this basis," wrote the panel, affirming a lower court decision.