Wednesday, May 4, 2011
(TMLC) Senior Trial Counsel Robert Muise will defend the right of public high school teacher Brad Johnson to display patriotic banners in his classroom before a panel of the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals tomorrow at 9:00 a.m. PST in Pasadena, California. The Poway Unified School District in California ordered Johnson to take down his banners that contained historical slogans such as “In God We Trust, ” “One Nation under God, ” as well as the preamble to the Constitution, because “they may offend a Muslim student.”
Johnson had been displaying the banners for twenty-five years. He was ordered to remove them in 2007. Because of the national significance of this case, C-SPAN will be videotaping the oral arguments, which will be broadcasted at a later date.
In a classic example of discrimination against anything Christian, the School District allowed religious classroom displays by other teachers, including displays included a 35 to 40-foot string of with images of Buddha; a poster with the lyrics from John Lennon’s anti-religion song “Imagine;” a poster with Hindu leader Mahatma Gandhi’s “7 Social Sins”; a poster of Muslim leader Malcolm X; and a poster of Buddhist leader, the Dalai Lama.
TMLC filed a federal lawsuit in 2007 against the Poway Unified School District, alleging that the school district violated Johnson’s constitutional rights by imposing a viewpoint-based restriction on his speech.
In February 2010, Federal District Court Judge ruled in favor of Johnson in a 32-page strongly worded opinion critical of the Poway school district's aversion to mentioning God:
“[The school district officials] apparently fear their students are incapable of dealing with diverse viewpoints that include God’s place in American history and culture. . . . That God places prominently in our Nation’s history does not create an violation requiring curettage and disinfectant for Johnson’s public high school classroom walls. It is a matter of historical fact that our institutions and government actors have in past and present times given place to a supreme God.”Shortly after his ruling, however, the School District board voted to appeal Judge Benitez's ruling at a closed-session meeting.