Federal Court upholds students’ equal rights, exposes school dis - NBC Right Now/KNDO/KNDU Tri-Cities, Yakima, WA |

Federal Court upholds students’ equal rights, exposes school district’s hypocrisy

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HILLSBORO, OR - On Tuesday, May 29, 2018, the Hillsboro School District (OR) was issued a restraining order because of its unfair suppression of free speech on the part of Addison Barnes, a senior at Liberty High School. U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman heard testimony regarding the issue of Barnes being banned from wearing his “Border Wall Construction Co.” t-shirt while at school (Case 0:18-cv-00877). 

The school administration has allowed the display of the poster “Sanctuary City, Welcome Home”, as well as allowing students to walk out in protest regarding various political issues. However, Barnes’ particular viewpoint, as expressed on his t-shirt, was silenced and he was punished by being suspended.

According to Assistant Principal Dr. Amanda Ryan-Fear, she had received a complaint from a teacher and two students that the shirt he was wearing “offended them”.  Barnes believes his First Amendment rights of freedom of expression were violated and submitted a statement to the court that, “It seems particularly unfair to me that my speech is censored, when the school is open to competing political views”. 

As reported in a May 29, 2018 OregonLive article ‘Hillsboro’s Liberty High School must allow student to wear pro-Trump T-shirt, judge rules’ by Maxine Bernstein, Barnes’ attorneys “argued that the school can’t muffle one side of the immigration debate while allowing one of Barnes’ teachers to display a sign in front of a classroom that reads, ‘Sanctuary City, Welcome Home’”. 

Bernstein went on to report that the Hillsboro District Attorney, Peter Mersereau, argued that, “This particular school district has a population that is one-third Hispanic.  This is not Lake Oswego.  This is not West Linn”.  In response, Bernstein stated that Judge Mosman asked “So First Amendment protections vary from high school to high school?”.

Barnes’ Attorneys Bradley Benbrook and Ben Becker cited that “Since the era of protests against the Vietnam War, the U.S. Supreme Court has continued to hold that students don’t shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.’”

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