Homophobic Assistant Attorney General Gets to Keep His Job Despite Harassing Student President

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Photo: CNN

When the news first came to light that Andrew Shirvell, an assistant attorney general in Michigan, had been waging a hostile, unprovoked campaign against Chris Armstrong, the University of Michigan's gay student-assembly president, Shirvell's employers mostly stayed mum. Attorney General Mike Cox declined to comment except to note Shirvell's "immaturity and lack of judgment outside the office." Last night, on AC360°, Cox emphasized again that Shirvell's actions against Armstrong are extracurricular, adding that Shirvell is within his rights to be a bigot and that he'll continue to work at the attorney general's office.

Calling Shirvell a "frontline grunt assistant prosecutor" who does satisfactory work, Cox said that according to the rulings from the U.S. Supreme Court, Michigan Supreme Court, and the state's civil-service regulations, Shirvell wasn't doing anything wrong by pasting a swastika and a gay flag over a photo of Armstrong's face or calling Armstrong "Satan's representative" when he protested outside the student's house. Said Cox:


"Here in America, we have this thing called the First Amendment, which allows people to express what they think and engage in political and social speech. He's clearly a bully ... but is that protected under the First Amendment of the United States Constitution? Yes."

Shirvell might be within his legal rights to hate-blog and peaceful protest. But shouldn't a legal representative for the state of Michigan, especially one associated with public prosecutions, have a vested interest in fairness and justice even for people unlike himself? Or did Shirvell bring his legal training to bear to make sure his actions appear impeachable?

Michigan attorney general defends employee's right to blog [CNN]