Michigan high court won’t hear appeal from fired state lawyer who bullied gay student

Andrew Shirvell (left), with a defaced image of gay college student Chris Armstrong that Shirvell posted on his blog in 2010.

Andrew Shirvell (left), with a defaced image of gay college student Chris Armstrong that Shirvell posted on his blog in 2010.

LANSING, Mich. — The Michigan Supreme Court won’t get involved in the case of a state lawyer who was fired after hounding a gay student leader at the University of Michigan.

In a brief order, the court says it won’t hear an appeal from Andrew Shirvell over unemployment benefits and other issues.

In February, Michigan appeals court said Shirvell was not entitled to collect unemployment benefits, rejecting claims that his off-hours activities were protected by the First Amendment, ruling Shirvell’s “conduct undermined one of the department’s specific missions — i.e. the integrity of its anti-cyberbullying campaign.”

Shirvell was fired as assistant attorney general in 2010 for an anti-gay campaign against then-20-year-old Chris Armstrong, who accused him of stalking and defaming him on an anti-gay blog and elsewhere.

For nearly six months, Shirvell waged an online campaign against Armstrong, the university’s first openly gay student president.

Shirvell used his blog to continuously attack and harass Armstrong, calling him a “radical homosexual activist,” a “racist, elitist and liar,” a Nazi, a “privileged pervert,” and “Satan’s representative on the student assembly.”

He was fired after it was determined that he used state resources and hours to conduct his campaign against Armstrong. Shirvell said he was exercising free speech rights, but his bosses said he was disrupting state business.

Armstrong later sued Shirvell, and a jury awarded him $4.5 million, which was later reduced to $3.5 million. In November, the U.S. Supreme Court refused to hear an appeal by Shirvell, and let stand the $3.5 million awarded to Armstrong.

Associated Press contributed to this report.

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