by Steven Ertelt
April 4, 2007
Harrisonburg, VA (LifeNews.com) — Attorneys for a pro-life student have reached an agreement with a Virginia high school that will allow him to distribute literature opposing abortion. Millbrook High School officials agreed to a settlement in a lawsuit over their prohibition of Andrew Raker from distributing pro-life leaflets outside of class.
Raker had participated in the Pro-Life Day of Silent Solidarity last October, an event where youth cover their mouths with tape to "speak up" for unborn children who are silenced by abortion.
Under the terms of the settlement, Raker will no longer be barred by school officials from distributing pro-life materials on campus outside of class time.
The school district, which has now officially rescinded its prior unconstitutional student literature distribution policies, agreed to conform to the terms of the preliminary injunction previously won by attorneys from the Alliance Defense Fund.
“Students are not stripped of their First Amendment right to pro-life speech at the schoolhouse gates,” ADF attorney Matt Bowman said in a statement LifeNews.com received.
“We are pleased that Andrew Raker has now secured the right to express his beliefs in a non-disruptive manner outside of instructional time, just as he sought to do before," he added. "The school district has done the right thing in agreeing to honor the First Amendment rights of its students.”
Last October, Raker wore pro-life clothing and distributed postcard-sized fliers in support of the event. Millbrook’s principal said his literature distribution would no longer be permitted because other students could object or view the material as religious.
Raker was later informed that unwritten school policy also required literature to be pre-approved even if it was distributed before or after school.
Following the filing of a suit by ADF attorneys in the U.S. District Court for the Western District of Virginia in Raker v. Frederick County Public Schools, school district officials created a written policy, which they disclosed four days before an injunction hearing.
In January, ADF won a preliminary injunction on Raker’s behalf
“The Constitution prohibits school officials from suppressing non-disruptive student speech and from censoring viewpoints just because they are ‘controversial,’” Bowman concluded. “Students cannot be barred from peacefully expressing their pro-life beliefs.”
Related web sites:
Alliance Defense Fund – https://www.alliancedefensefund.org