Student Suspended for Supporting Trump Wins $25k for 1st Amendment Violation
Student filed a lawsuit citing a violation of his 1st Amendment rights,
A student from the ironically named 'Liberty High School' in Hillsboro, Oregon, has won $25,000 in Damages after he filed a lawsuit after being kicked out for wearing a pro- Donald Trump T-shirt.
Addison Barnes, 18, filed a lawsuit in federal court, citing a violation of his 1st Amendment rights, after being suspended for a T-shirt that read: “Border Wall Construction Co. The Wall Just Got 10 Feet Taller.”
“I brought this case to stand up for myself and other students who might be afraid to express their right-of-center views,” Addison Barnes said in a statement. “Everyone knows that if a student wears an anti-Trump shirt to school, the teachers won’t think twice about it. But when I wore a pro-Trump shirt, I got suspended. That’s not right.”
One week after the suit was filed, the federal judge stated that Barnes would be able to wear the shirt in school.
Today, the school district reached a settlement with Barnes in the amount of $25,000. Barnes will also receive a handwritten apology letter from principal Greg Timmons.
According to the Oregonian: Barnes’ lawyers said the message on the shirt wasn’t the point of the case. High school students have the right to express their political views, they said.
“We brought the case to police the thought police,” attorney Brad Benbrook said.
Hillsboro school district officials said Tuesday they were preparing a statement about the settlement and would release it later in the afternoon.
School officials had defended their actions in court, saying the shirt would contribute to a “hostile learning environment” and would make students feel insecure in school, noting that about 33 percent of the high school’s students are of Hispanic descent.
They also said the school has been the site of recent student walkouts and sit-ins to protest Trump’s immigration policies.
The district described increased racial tensions arising from racially charged language around immigration, school officials said.
But U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman found the school district couldn’t justify its censorship.
The judge said he balanced constitutionally protected speech with the orderly running of a school.
The school district is entitled to be concerned about the response of other students to the T-shirt, the judge said.
But the “thin” court record offered little support for the district’s argument that the shirt could “substantially disrupt” the school, he said.
According to Newsweek: Mike McClane, who represented Barnes and is also the Oregon House minority leader, said in a statement it was a straightforward First Amendment case.
"Political speech, whether popular or not, is protected by the Constitution. High school students have the right to express political views subject to restrictions that must be equally applied to all students.
This case reinforced that proposition," McLane said, according to the Willamette Week.