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Banner Case: Will SCOTUS Consider Teacher's Free Speech Rights?

By Robyn Hagan Cain | Last updated on

Will the Supreme Court consider whether a California teacher can display an “In God We Trust” banner in his classroom?

This week, Thomas More Law Center in Ann Arbor, Mich. announced that it is asking the Supreme Court to weigh in on the banner case.

In September, we told you about the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision in which the court ruled that the Poway Unified School District did not violate math teach Bradley Johnson's free speech rights when it him to remove two, seven-foot “patriotic” banners from his classroom.

One banner had red, white, and blue stripes and stated in large block type: "IN GOD WE TRUST"; "ONE NATION UNDER GOD"; "GOD BLESS AMERICA"; and, "GOD SHED HIS GRACE ON THEE." The other stated: "All men are created equal, they are endowed by their CREATOR." On second banner, the word "creator" occupied its own line, and each letter of "creator" was capitalized and nearly double the size of the other text.

Johnson said the banners were intended "to highlight the religious heritage and nature of our nation." The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals suggested that Johnson was trying to "use his public position as a pulpit from which to preach his own views on the role of God in our Nation's history to the captive students in his mathematics classroom."

The Thomas More Law Center thinks that the Ninth Circuit made a bad call. The group claims that the school violated Johnson's free speech rights because it did not order other teachers to remove non-Judeo-Christian displays from their rooms. They claim that fellow teachers at the school displayed Tibetan flags and John Lennon's anti-religious "Imagine" lyrics without objection, reports Rancho Bernardo Patch.

Our bet? Considering the Supreme Court's reluctance to hear consider Establishment Clause cases, the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals decision will probably stand.

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