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Judge dismisses lawsuits over state police diversity policy

Two white men said racial and gender preferences in public employment violate the state and U.S. Constitutions, especially a 2006 state referendum. The lawsuits named Gasper and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as defendants.

A federal judge has rejected claims by two white men who said they were the victims of illegal retaliation after objecting to how the Michigan State Police was trying to diversify its workforce.

Chief U.S. District Judge Robert Jonker in Grand Rapids on Monday dismissed the lawsuits filed in May 2020 by Michael Caldwell and Robert Hahn, according to the Detroit Free Press.

Caldwell, a captain, was demoted and Hahn, an inspector, was fired in March 2020 after the state police determined they had improperly interfered in the handling of a transfer request.

Both claimed that was only a pretext and that they were really singled out for discipline because they spoke out against the agency’s diversity initiatives. Both said they objected after state police Director Joe Gasper in 2019 told command officers that the department was “way too white and way too male.”

Caldwell and Hahn said racial and gender preferences in public employment violate the state and U.S. Constitutions, especially a 2006 state referendum. The lawsuits named Gasper and Gov. Gretchen Whitmer as defendants.

Jonker said there was “scant evidence” that Gasper had any involvement in their discipline and they had not shown they were subjected to reverse discrimination based on their gender or race, or that they were retaliated against.

Hahn and Caldwell “plainly disagree as a policy matter with the priorities of the Michigan State Police,” Jonker wrote in a 35-page opinion. “And at bottom, this is all they have shown.”

Jim Fett, their attorney, told the newspaper he plans to appeal the ruling.

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