Addison Barnes, a senior at Liberty High School in Hillsboro, Oregon, filed a lawsuit against his school for suspending him for wearing a T-shirt that supported President Trump’s border wall.
According to the lawsuit, Barnes’ vice principal took him out of his “People in Politics” class in January and asked him to cover up his shirt, which read “Donald J. Trump Border Wall Construction Co.” because it offended other students and a teacher.
Barnes at first listened to the vice principal’s request and went back to class. He soon decided, however, that it wasn’t right for his vice principal to do that.
“He believed that the First Amendment protected his right to peacefully express his political views in school — so he uncovered the shirt,” the lawsuit said.
The vice principal wasn’t happy when she saw Barnes wearing the T-shirt again and had a security guard remove him from class and take him to her office. When he arrived to her office, she threatened to suspend him for defiance. The vice principal gave him a choice between covering his T-shirt and going home. He chose to go home, which was treated as a suspension.
School officials later met with Barnes and his father and rescinded the suspension, However, they urged that the 18-year-old would receive further discipline, including suspension, if he wore the T-shirt to school again.
Barnes’ attorneys said that the school showed a double standard by attempting to censor him while letting one of his teachers put a sign in front of a classroom reading “Sanctuary City, Welcome Home.”
“By muffling one side of the debate while allowing the other side to magnify their voice with a megaphone, defendants’ actions constitute viewpoint-based discrimination,” the lawsuit states.
ACLU of Oregon Legal Director, Matt Dos Santos, said that high school was wrong for asking Barnes to remove the shirt.
“This shirt is mean-spirited, but it isn’t a ‘disturbance’ under First Amendment case law,” his statement reads, calling the school’s decision to censor Barnes instead of inviting students to discuss the issue “disappointing,” he said.
The lawsuit requests for the federal court to rule that the school violated Barnes’ constitutional right to free speech and issue a permanent injunction against the school’s use of dress code guidelines that are “inconsistent with the First Amendment of the United States constitution.”
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