PORTLAND – A federal judge has overturned a decision by school administrators in Oregon, who banned a student from wearing a pro-border wall T-shirt to school.
Liberty High School in Hillsboro had prohibited senior Addison Barnes from wearing his “Donald J. Trump Border Wall Construction Co.” shirt on school grounds. But U.S. District Judge Michael W. Mosman found Tuesday that the Hillsboro School District could not justify its censorship, The Oregonian/OregonLive reported .
The school district is entitled to be concerned about the response of other students to the T-shirt, Mosman said. But the “thin” court record so far offers little support for the district’s argument that the shirt could “substantially disrupt” the school, he said.
Barnes earlier this month sued the high school, the principal and district, arguing they violated his First Amendment rights when he was told to go home or cover up the shirt in class.
Barnes, 18, was suspended Jan. 19 for wearing the shirt to his “People and Politics” class, where the topic of discussion was immigration. After his father met with the principal, the school rescinded the suspension but told Barnes he couldn’t wear the shirt again in school.
School officials said the shirt would contribute to a “hostile learning environment” and would make students feel insecure, noting students of Hispanic descent make up about one-third of the school population. The district also described increased tensions arising from racially-charged language around immigration.
After the hearing, when asked if Barnes was going to wear the shirt to school before he graduated, his lawyer, Bradley Benbrook, responded, “Yeah, that was the idea.”
Barnes is scheduled to graduate June 7.
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