Appeals court rejects California teacher's 1st Amendment claim

Sept. 14, 2011
Panel says Poway district can stop teacher from displaying banners that refer to God

From The Los Angeles Times: A federal appeals court in California has rejected the claim of a public school mathematics teacher that his 1st Amendment rights were violated when a principal ordered him to take down classroom banners that referred to God. A panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled that the principal and school board have the same authority as any employer to set limits on the speech of employees. Bradley Johnson, a mathematics teacher in the Poway Unified School District, had displayed banners in his classrooms for two decades that he saw as celebrating the religious heritage of America, including "In God We Trust," "God Bless America," and "God Shed His Grace on Thee." But in 2007 a principal ordered the banners taken down, and Johnson sued. A lower court judge last year sided with Johnson, ruling that district officials had violated Johnson's right to free speech. The appellate decision reverses that ruling.

MORE: Read the Appeals Court decision. (40 pages, PDF)

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