by Steven Ertelt
February 2, 2007
Monroe, MI (LifeNews.com) — A pro-life student has won a legal battle against his junior high school, which prevented him from participating in a national day for students to oppose abortion. A federal judge granted a motion requiring Jefferson Middle School officials to recognize the free speech rights of the student.
The unnamed student wanted to participate in the “Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity," a national day where pro-life students place tape over their mouth to "speak up" for the unborn children silenced by abortion.
When the student attempted to express his pro-life viewpoint to his classmates by handing out literature and wearing red tape along with a sweatshirt that read, “Pray to End Abortion,” he was sent to the principal’s office.
School administrators ordered him to change his clothes so that the pro-life message on his sweatshirt could not be seen, and he was prohibited from passing out leaflets.
Attorneys with the Alliance Defense Fund, a pro-life law firm, filed suit of behalf of the student in the case M.A.L. v. Kinsland in the U.S. District Court for the Eastern District of Michigan on January 23.
The judge ruled that the officials acted wrongly when they tried to censor the student’s message.
“Students simply do not sacrifice their First Amendment right to free speech once they enter the schoolhouse door,” said ADF Litigation Counsel Delia van Loenen. “We are glad that this judge acted swiftly and decisively to protect and affirm not only this student’s speech, but that of other students as well.”
Attorney Steven Jentzen of Ypsilanti served as local counsel in the case.
“This is a tremendous victory for the most basic of our constitutional rights,” Jentzen said in a statement LifeNews.com obtained. “Pro-life speech should not be treated as second-class speech. It has the same protections under the Constitution as all other forms of expression.”
The Alliance Defense Fund filed lawsuits on behalf of several students across the nation that were prevented from participating in the event.