(CNS News) – A Michigan public high school that refused to allow a student’s pro-life message to be read over the school’s public address service during announcements has been ordered by a federal judge to read the message because, to not do so, is discriminatory and a violation of the First Amendment.
In his Nov. 4 order, U.S. District Court Judge Paul Borman said the Skyline High School in Ann Arbor, Mich., must read over its public address system on Nov. 7, the following statement,
Are you interested in joining our efforts to protect the health of women and children?
If proposal 3 is passed it would eliminate health and safety regulations, legalize late term and partial birth abortion, no longer require physicians to perform abortions, and eliminate informed consent laws.
If so, email us at firstname.lastname@example.org.”
Proposal 3 in Michigan reads, “A proposal to amend the state constitution to establish new individual right to reproductive freedom, including right to make all decisions about pregnancy and abortion; allow state to regulate abortion in some cases; and forbid prosecution of individuals exercising established right.”
The statement was written by a student at Skyline High School and the school had refused to read it over its PA system, claiming it was “political.” Skyline, however, had allowed similar messages from the left to be announced over the PA system. For instance, students were able to promote abortion, Roe v. Wade, Planned Parenthood, Black Lives Matter, the George Zimmerman and Trayvon Martin trial, climate change, and the visit of a Democratic congresswoman seeking re-election.
In response to this apparent censorship and discrimination against a pro-life message, the Thomas More Law Center (TMLC), a nonprofit public interest law firm, sent a letter to the Ann Arbor Public Schools and requested for the announcement to be made.
Ann Arbor Public schools later responded but denied any wrongdoing and continued “to censor Plaintiffs’ speech,” reads a press release from the TMLC.
The law firm subsequently filed a federal lawsuit Nov. 1 in the Federal District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan against the Ann Arbor Public Schools and officials of Skyline High School.
The lawsuit claims “blatant discrimination,” and alleges that the school violated the First and Fourteenth Amendment to the U.S. Constitution and the Equal Access Act. It was filed on behalf of David Nielsen and his minor son, who is identified as the “plaintiff,” after his announcement-request was denied by the school for its “political” nature.
“The Constitution protects a student’s right to have a different viewpoint from others and share it within the walls of a public school,” TMLC’s Chief of Supreme Court and Appellate Practice Erin Mersino said. “How else will students learn tolerance toward opinions to which they disagree or how to thrive in our pluralistic society?”
After the plaintiffs submitted their announcement request on Proposal 3, they were sent an email from the school that claimed the statement was political in nature, and therefore, would not be read or posted. The plaintiffs then met with the principal’s secretary, who confirmed the announcement was rejected and not made for that reason, because in his “opinion,” it was “political.”
“Public schools across our nation are stifling the free speech of conservative students and organizations,” TMLC President Richard Thompson said. “We are working to defend their constitutional rights – rights which the Supreme Court so famously said, they do not lose by merely entering the schoolhouse gate.”
A motion for a temporary restraining order was also filed Nov. 2, “asking the Court to require that the announcement be shared over the school’s public address system at the earliest possible time.” A hearing was held Nov. 4, to which Borman announced that the motion would be granted.
Borman’s ruling deemed that, “Plaintiffs have shown a likelihood of success on the merits of their First Amendment claim,” and that “Defendants seek to silence Plaintiffs’ appropriate speech by refusing to broadcast it with their morning announcements.”
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