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Court rules in favor of teacher displaying patriotic / religious banners

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  • Court rules in favor of teacher displaying patriotic / religious banners

    San Diego teacher can sue to restore classroom banners


    Brad Johnson, a high school teacher who was ordered to take down banners with slogans including 'God Bless America,' can proceed with a lawsuit against his school district, a federal judge rules.

    By Tony Perry, Los Angeles Times Staff Writer
    September 11, 2008

    SAN DIEGO -- A high school mathematics teacher has won a round in federal court in his fight to put "God Bless America" and "One Nation Under God" banners back in his classroom.

    Brad Johnson, a teacher at Westview High in San Diego, had the banners up in his classroom for two decades, but last year the principal ordered him to take them down, saying they were an impermissible attempt to make a Judeo-Christian statement to his students.

    Johnson sued in federal court. Poway Unified School District officials sought to have the lawsuit dismissed, arguing that, as a public employee, Johnson had only limited 1st Amendment rights while on the job and that the principal had authority over what was put on classroom walls.

    In a blistering 23-page decision, U.S. District Court Judge Roger T. Benitez rejected the district's motion as legally faulty and blasted its "brash" attempt to take down the banners. The jurist noted that the district allowed other teachers to put up posters with Buddhist and Islamic messages, posters of rock bands including Nirvana and the Clash, and Tibetan prayer rugs.

    Johnson's banners, Benitez wrote, were patriotic expressions deeply rooted in American history.

    "By squelching only Johnson's patriotic expression, the school district does a disservice to the students of Westview High School, and the federal and state constitutions do not permit such one-sided censorship," Benitez wrote in a ruling issued last week.

    The school district's attorney, Jack M. Sleeth Jr., said today that the school board would meet in closed session next week to discuss whether to appeal the ruling, settle the case or advance to trial. He said the principal made her decision after receiving a complaint about the banners.

    "It's an extremely complex issue," Sleeth said. "It's not as simple as the teacher loves the Lord and we tried to stop him. He was hired to teach mathematics. What do these banners have to do with mathematics?"

    Sleeth said the district offered to let the banners remain if Johnson would provide material showing the historical context of the messages on them. But he refused, Sleeth said.

    Johnson is seeking to restore the banners, which include "In God We Trust" and "God Shed His Grace on Thee," and to be compensated for $30,000 in legal fees.

    The lawsuit was filed by the Michigan-based Thomas More Law Center, which supports cases involving religious issues nationwide. The center is also representing a Marine lieutenant colonel facing court-martial at Camp Pendleton for allegedly not investigating a possible war crime by troops in Haditha, Iraq.

    Richard Thompson, president and chief counsel for the law center, suggested that the Poway district should settle the case rather than advance to trial.

    "Many public schools exhibit a knee-jerk hostility toward Christianity," he said.

    In his ruling, Benitez noted that Johnson had never referred to the banners while teaching.
    Facts do not cease to exist because they are ignored. -- Aldous Huxley
    Two things are infinite: the universe and human stupidity. -- Albert Einstein

  • #2
    Good. Some more sane stuff from the bench.
    “We don't disagree, you are wrong. Until you have a clue what you are talking about we can't disagree.” - cgh6366

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    • #3
      Originally posted by nuthead View Post
      Good. Some more sane stuff from the bench.
      +1 All hope is not lost after all
      It's better to be hated for what you are, then to be loved for what you are not.

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      • #4
        Sleeth said the district offered to let the banners remain if Johnson would provide material showing the historical context of the messages on them. But he refused, Sleeth said.
        • "God Bless America"
        • "One Nation Under God"
        • "God Shed His Grace on Thee"
        • "In God We Trust"


        Anyone who needs to be handed material showing the historical context of these slogans, either needs to go back to college, or spent too much time in the wrong one.

        .
        .
        .
        lib'-er-ty: the freedom given to you to make the wrong decision, based on the reasoned belief that you will normally make the right one.

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        • #5
          Somebody pinch me. This cannot be true. I pray it is.
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          • #6
            Good to finally see some good news on this subject.

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            • #7
              Obviously someone has never handled money....or been to a sally port (in god we trust, all others we search)
              Want to start a website? I run Host Lonestar.
              Texas Discussion blog about texas...forum as well

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              • #8
                Doesn't every 4th grader in America know the historical context of these messages? I would like to think that the school district is a little brighter than that but I guess not.
                Support bacteria. They're the only culture some people have.

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                • #9
                  I'm interested to hear what DAL has to think about it given his/her tendencies to be a more "progressive" voice.

                  Personally, I'm just shocked it came from Cali. I'm very happy to see it though. I was really dismayed when I went to my old high school to get my transcripts sent out to the departments with which I was applying, only to find posters on the walls by the "Gay/Lesb/Bi" groups talking about how homosexuality is natural and yadda yadda. It made me sad b/c I knew that if I were still there, I couldn't post my own poster saying to the effect that what they said was false...

                  Go God! .

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                  • #10
                    plus one for morales and ethics in our country, all is not lost!

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                    • #11
                      Originally posted by DAL View Post
                      From the article: The jurist noted that the district allowed other teachers to put up posters with Buddhist and Islamic messages, posters of rock bands including Nirvana and the Clash, and Tibetan prayer rugs.

                      Johnson's banners, Benitez wrote, were patriotic expressions deeply rooted in American history.

                      "By squelching only Johnson's patriotic expression, the school district does a disservice to the students of Westview High School, and the federal and state constitutions do not permit such one-sided censorship," Benitez wrote in a ruling issued last week.
                      I think this is sound reasoning by the judge. What gives these banners the green light is the history behind them.
                      ...hunter of the shadows is rising...

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                      • #12
                        Originally posted by ICE Offcr View Post
                        plus one for morales and ethics in our country, all is not lost!
                        What does this have to do with morals and ethics? Please explain.
                        ...hunter of the shadows is rising...

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                        • #13
                          well let's see, these are just a few simple quotes that give us something to believe in not only ourselves but a country united.

                          God Bless America"
                          "One Nation Under God"
                          "God Shed His Grace on Thee"
                          "In God We Trust"

                          As we have lost faith in what our country stands for, our morales and ethics have also erroded. Our kids have become more involved in increased criminal activity, gangs, guns, kids having kids, need I say more. This is because the libreals have been able to take away the simple things like the above. We have to have something to believe in, whatever it is and by not allowing these simple quotes in our lives I believe it takes away from who we were and who we should be inside and outside.

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                          • #14
                            Originally posted by ICE Offcr View Post
                            well let's see, these are just a few simple quotes that give us something to believe in not only ourselves but a country united.

                            God Bless America"
                            "One Nation Under God"
                            "God Shed His Grace on Thee"
                            "In God We Trust"

                            As we have lost faith in what our country stands for, our morales and ethics have also erroded. Our kids have become more involved in increased criminal activity, gangs, guns, kids having kids, need I say more. This is because the libreals have been able to take away the simple things like the above. We have to have something to believe in, whatever it is and by not allowing these simple quotes in our lives I believe it takes away from who we were and who we should be inside and outside.
                            Are you suggesting that the presence of those banners, or lack there of, has a causative effect on morals and ethics?

                            If we increase the number of banners do we increase morals and ethics?
                            ...hunter of the shadows is rising...

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                            • #15
                              Great decision!

                              It had little to do with ethics, morals, or Christianity. It was simply the acknowledgment of the one-sided decision to force only Christian slogans/banners to be removed. In effect, the choice has to be made of all or nothing.

                              Especially great that it actually came from California. Very encouraging!
                              "Find out just what the people will submit to and you have found out the exact amount of injustice and wrong which will be imposed upon them; and these will continue until they are resisted with either words or blows, or with both. The limits of tyrants are prescribed by the endurance of those whom they oppress."

                              - Frederick Douglass

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