A state attorney who lost his job over
tormenting a gay student can't collect unemployment benefits, the
Michigan Appeals Court ruled Friday.
Andrew Shirvell was fired as an
assistant attorney general in 2010 for attacking openly gay Chris
Armstrong. Armstrong graduated from the University of Michigan in
2011. His involvement in student politics riled Shirvell, an alum of
Shirvell escalated his attacks after
Armstrong became the school's first openly gay student government
president. He attacked Armstrong on the Internet, at his home and at
university events. At
his now private blog Chris
Armstrong Watch, he accused the student of preying on
impressionable freshman and of being “Satan's representative on the
student assembly,” and labeled Armstrong a Nazi, a racist, a liar
and an elitist.
According to the
AP, the appeals court said that Shirvell's speech was not
protected by the First Amendment because it affected government
“The department, as the chief law
enforcement agency in the state, represents all of the citizens of
Michigan irrespective of race, gender, sexual orientation, religion
or creed. … Shirvell's conduct reasonably could have created the
impression that neither he nor the department enforced the law in a
fair, even-handed manner without bias,” the court said.
Shirvell said that he would appeal the
case to the Michigan Supreme Court.
“Every public employee, whether
liberal or conservative, will now be in fear of what they're doing on
their off hours,” he told the AP.
In a separate action, Armstrong filed a
defamation suit and Shirvell was ordered to pay $4.5 million in
damages. Shirvell appealed the ruling.