The U.S. Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit has upheld a defamation lawsuit against Andrew Shirvell, a former state assistant attorney general who was banned from the University of Michigan campus for homophobic attacks against then-Student Assembly president Chris Armstrong.
In 2010, Shirvell was fired after his blog, "Chris Armstrong Watch," stated that Armstrong—the first openly gay Michigan Student Assembly president—was promoting a "radical homosexual agenda." Armstrong sued Shirvell for defamation in 2011, and won; Shirvell appealed. According to The Michigan Daily:
In an interview Monday afternoon, Armstrong's attorney Deborah Gordon applauded the decision. She said based on Shirvell's current financial state, she wasn't sure if the full judgement would be recovered, but that the symbolic value of the ruling was also important.
"Andrew Shirvell is unemployed, and as far as I know, he doesn't have any assets," she said. "So the odds of Chris Armstrong ever collecting the $3.5 million — not good, in my opinion. However, the judgement is priceless. Because that was the jury speaking, and the jury represents our community. Chris did this because he had no alternative. Shirvell would not retract the disgusting lies he told about Chris. He took them to national T.V. So we had to turn to the jury system and the courts to clear Chris's name, which has now happened."
Andrew Shirvell, who also filed a countersuit against Armstrong's attorney Deborah Gordon that was swatted down last year, has proven himself to be an extremely litigious homophobe—and in the ruling, Federal Judge Julia Gibbons dubbed his decision to appeal "frivolous":
"As time went on, it became increasingly clear that (Shirvell's) claims amounted to nothing more than speculation," the opinion stated. "His failure to withdraw the allegations violated Shirvell's continuing duty of candor."
In an email to the Detroit Free Press, Gordon expressed her satisfaction with the ruling:
"Mr. Shirvell vilified, smeared and stalked a college student because he was gay. He thought all he had to do was utter the words 'First Amendment' and he would be protected from any consequences for his actions. He was incorrect.
The fact that he was — and remains — an attorney made his conduct especially abhorrent. The jury set him straight, and the Court of Appeals now has affirmed their verdict."
Image via Associated Press