Patriotic “God Banners” Ruled Unconstitutional

In a case that has been going on for a couple of years, the Thomas More Law Center has been advocating for Poway teacher Brad Johnson’s right to display banners that quote founding documents with the word “God” in them.

The district court ruled in his favor in 2010, saying the school district displayed unConstitutional viewpoint discrimination when it required him to drop his banners, but did not do the same for other religious viewpoints that might also be offensive.  The court also reiterated the inapplicability of a “heckler’s veto.”

The 9th US Circuit Court of Appeals has overturned that verdict, saying Johnson did not have unfettered free speech and the school district was within its authority.

The Circuit Court held that the other displays of religious content at issue (the Dalai Lama, John Lennon’s Imagine, and Tibetan prayer flags, for example) were not inherently religious, while Johnson’s use of the posters was.  Therefore, the differing treatment did not result in unConstitutional viewpoint discrimination.

The TMLC has indicated they will appeal.

The military analogy to this case was discussed near its beginning.

Also noted at the Religion Clause.