AP

Court: Vancouver, WA teacher wearing MAGA hat fell under protected speech

Jan 4, 2023, 8:33 AM

Photo from KIRO 7

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals has ruled in favor of a former teacher in Vancouver, Washington, concluding that his wearing a hat supporting former President Donald Trump to school was protected speech under the First Amendment.

Court documents show that science teacher Eric Dodge brought the “Make America Great Again” baseball cap with him to an Evergreen Public Schools building twice before the 2019-2020 school year. The Columbian reported. The first occasion was to a staff-only cultural sensitivity and racial bias training.

Wy’east Middle School Principal Caroline Garret allegedly told him to use better judgment. Dodge said he was “verbally attacked” by Garret and other school employees after bringing the hat again, and that retaliation amounted to a violation of his First Amendment rights.

The appeals panel concluded in a Dec. 29 ruling that the district failed to show evidence of a “tangible disruption” to school operations necessary to outweigh the teacher’s First Amendment rights, the court ruled.

“That some may not like the political message being conveyed is par for the course and cannot itself be a basis for finding disruption of a kind that outweighs the speaker’s First Amendment rights,” Judge Danielle J. Forrest wrote in the opinion.

The country’s freedom of expression does have significant exceptions. “There is hate speech, there is threatening speech,” First Amendment expert and dean emeritus at the Lewis & Clark Law School, Stephen Kanter, told The Oregonian/OregonLive, “but a MAGA hat falls far short of that.”

The appeals panel also found that both the Evergreen Public Schools and chief human resources officer Janae Gomes did not take any improper administrative action against Dodge.

Neither Dodge nor Garrett could be reached for comment by The Oregonian/OregonLive.

Michael McFarland, a lawyer representing the school district and Gomes, said his clients are happy with the ruling.

Dodge resigned in 2020.

AP

moore redmond washington...

Associated Press

U.S. Supreme Court rules against Redmond couple challenging foreign income tax

The court ruled in the case of Charles and Kathleen Moore, of Redmond, Washington after they previously challenged a $15,000 tax bill.

3 days ago

Image:The New York Giants' Willie Mays poses for a photo during baseball spring training in 1972. M...

Associated Press

Willie Mays, Giants’ electrifying ‘Say Hey Kid,’ dies at 93

Willie Mays, whose singular combination of talent, drive and exuberance made him one of baseball’s greatest players, has died. He was 93.

4 days ago

Image: This photo provided by the Washington Department of Ecology shows a derailed BNSF train on t...

Associated Press

Judge orders BNSF to pay Washington tribe nearly $400M for trespassing with oil trains

BNSF Railway must pay the sum to a Native American tribe in Washington after it ran 100-car trains with crude oil on the tribe's reservation.

5 days ago

Photo: In this photo provided by Tieanna Joseph Cade, an amusement park ride is shown stuck with 30...

Associated Press

Crews rescue 28 people trapped upside down high on Oregon amusement park ride

Emergency crews in Oregon rescued 28 people after they were stuck dangling upside down high on a ride at a century-old amusement park.

5 days ago

juneteenth shooting texas...

Associated Press

2 killed and 6 wounded in shooting during a Juneteenth celebration in a Texas park

A shooting in a Texas park left two people dead and six wounded, including two children, on Saturday, authorities said.

7 days ago

Photo: Israeli soldiers drive a tank near the Israeli-Gaza border, in southern Israel, Wednesday, J...

Jack Jeffery, The Associated Press

8 Israeli soldiers killed in southern Gaza in deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months

An explosion in Gaza killed eight Israeli soldiers, the military said Saturday, making it the deadliest attack on Israeli forces in months.

7 days ago

Court: Vancouver, WA teacher wearing MAGA hat fell under protected speech