Court: Students Can Have Statement Opposing Michigan Pro-Abortion-Rights Ballot Measure Read Over P/A System …
In Nielsen v. Ann Arbor Public Schools, handed down yesterday by Judge Paul Borman (E.D. Mich.) (the decision itself had been announced Friday), the Skyline High School student Republican park (represented by student S.N.) sought to have an announcement read over the school’s public address system, “which also announces proposals from other student groups” (the Complaint had cited many such past announcements, including on controversial political issues):
Are you interested in joining our efforts to protect the health of women and children by joining us in our fight to defeat Proposal 3?
If proposal 3 is passed it would eliminate health and safety regulations, legalize late term and partial birth abortion, no longer require physicians to perform abortions, and eliminate informed consent laws.
If so, email us at ….
The school said no, citing a school district policy:
The Superintendent shall notify any political parties, organizations, and/or candidates that they are expressly prohibited from promoting political activities and/or individuals on school property during school hours.
A secretary at the school allegedly also told S.N. that “he is ‘the one who controls the announcements’ and that the announcement was rejected due to being ‘political’ and that the proposed announcement was ‘subjective.'” The principal agreed, “stating that ‘on the advice of counsel,’ the announcement was not allowed ‘due to campaign finance law.'” In its court papers, the school also said that it had refused to run an announcement from the National Organization of Women Club that stated “Considering that Roe v. Wade was recently overturned, the elections coming up on November 8th are very important,” because “the reference to Roe v. Wade was a nod to the current ballot initiative”; the announcement was modified to remove the “Considering that Roe v. Wade was recently overturned” clause.
Plaintiffs sued, claiming the exclusion of their announcement violated their First Amendment rights to speak within the school’s annoucnement program, and violated the Equal Access Act, which provides:
It shall be unlawful for any public secondary school which receives Federal financial assistance and which has a limited open forum to deny equal access or a fair o
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