A U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that a Washington State middle school teacher was exercising his right of free speech while wearing his MAGA hat at school training sessions.
MAGA hat is free speech, says court in reviving threatened teacher's lawsuit https://t.co/11I21QEvNw pic.twitter.com/z07WdXf4fj
— Reuters (@Reuters) December 30, 2022
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said there was no evidence that teacher, Eric Dodge, had caused any disruption by wearing his MAGA hat to teacher-only trainings at his Vancouver, Washington, school.
Dodge said the principal, Caroline Garrett, called him a racist and homophobe and he would need a union rep if he wore the hat again.
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Garrett reportedly told Dodge that other faculty members were offended by the hat.
Dodge sued Garrett and the school district, claiming retaliation against his free-speech rights.
U.S. District Judge James Robart in Tacoma, Washington, dismissed the case last year. The judge said Garrett was immune from the lawsuit because her alleged actions were not clearly unconstitutional, and that the school district had not ratified any unlawful conduct by the principal.
The 9th Circuit on Thursday revived the claim against Garrett, saying Dodge’s freedom of expression clearly outweighed any potential for the hat to offend his coworkers.
“That some may not like the political message being conveyed is par for the course and cannot itself be a basis for finding disruption of a kind that outweighs the speaker’s First Amendment rights,” wrote Trump-appointee Circuit Judge Danielle Forrest.
“Teachers can’t be disciplined for expressing political opinions absent some showing that doing so interferes with their function as a public employee,” said Eric Sell.
A good free speech opinion out of the 9th Cir. Wearing a MAGA hat during a training session doesn't disrupt school operations. Teachers can't be disciplined for expressing political opinions absent some showing that doing so interferes with their function as a public employee. https://t.co/IoP3u4A14X
— Eric Sell (@EricSell) December 29, 2022
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