Pro-life student wins free speech lawsuit against California elementary school

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Pro-life group American Life League (ALL) announced on Friday that a California elementary school was charged with violating the free speech of a student when administrators prohibited her from wearing one of ALL's pro-life t-shirts.

Tiffany Amador, a sixth grader in 2008, was told by school officials at McSwain Union Elementary School in Merced, California that she could not wear her ALL t-shirt during the group's National Pro-Life T-Shirt Day that year.

The shirt depicted images of a growing fetus over a series of panels with the last panel in solid black. In addition to the word “abortion” written in capital letters across the top of the shirt, a caption read, “Growing … growing … gone.”

William J. Becker Jr. of the Becker Law Firm, who helped represent Amador, said that although the school argued that the images were “disruptive” due to their “graphic nature,” school officials could not substantiate the claim. On Aug. 13, a California federal court ruled that the elementary school and three school officials violated Amador's First, Fourth and Fourteenth Amendment rights.

Amador, who has since graduated from the eighth grade, claimed that in addition to her First Amendment right being violated, her Fourth Amendment right – freedom from unreasonable search and seizure – was disregarded when the school’s secretary was alleged to have forcefully pulled her into the principal’s office because of the shirt.

“Public school employees work for the government,” Becker said in a press release. “Any time a school official uses physical force to suppress non-disruptive student expression, the government has gone way too far in enforcing its own political views.”

Judie Brown, president of American Life League, also weighed in on the ruling Friday.

“So often, pro-life students learn that free speech is a constitutional right that, in practice at least, doesn’t apply to them,” Brown noted. “For too long, pro-abortion demagogues have had a stranglehold on the country’s educational institutions and have sought to stifle dissenting opinions – by force, if necessary, as seen in this case.”

“We are so grateful to Tiffany for her courage in the face of injustice,” she concluded, “both the bloody injustice of abortion and the tyrannical injustice of government institutions violating free speech rights.”

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