Student Wins Free Speech Case in Federal Court
August 16, 2010
WASHINGTON, (christiansunite.com) -- American Life League celebrated a free speech victory after a federal court entered a judgment on Thursday that a California elementary school and three school officials violated the First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights of a sixth-grade student who participated in ALL's National Pro-Life T-Shirt Day (NPLTD) in 2008.
School officials barred Tiffany Amador from wearing her American Life League T-shirt at McSwain Union Elementary School in Merced, California. NPLTD (now a week-long event) was organized to increase awareness of the personhood of the child in the womb and the tragedy of abortion.
"So often, pro-life students learn that free speech is a constitutional right that, in practice at least, doesn't apply to them," said Judie Brown, president of American Life League. "For too long, pro-abortion demagogues have had a stranglehold on the country's educational institutions and have sought to stifle dissenting opinions -- by force, if necessary, as seen in this case. We are so grateful to Tiffany for her courage in the face of injustice -- both the bloody injustice of abortion and the tyrannical injustice of government institutions violating free speech rights."
The shirt featured the word "ABORTION" over a series of panels, two of which depicted pictures of a developing preborn child and the third filled in with black. The caption read, "Growing ... growing ... gone."
According to William J. Becker Jr. of the Becker Law Firm, representing Amador, the school claimed the images were "disruptive" because of their "graphic nature" but could not explain what made them so graphic that they would have caused any disruption, much less a substantial one, which the U.S. Supreme Court has held is a requirement for a school infringing upon a student's expressive rights.
In addition to claiming that her First Amendment right of expression was violated, Amador, who has since graduated from the eighth grade, alleged in the lawsuit that her Fourth Amendment right to be free from unreasonable search and seizure was violated when the school's secretary forcefully pulled her into the principal's office because of her shirt.
"Public school employees work for the government," Becker said. "Any time a school official uses physical force to suppress non-disruptive student expression, the government has gone way too far in enforcing its own political views."
American Life League was cofounded in 1979 by Judie Brown. It is the largest grassroots Catholic pro-life organization in the United States and is committed to the protection of all innocent human beings from the moment of creation to natural death.