A federal judge has overturned the punishment for a high school student in Washington who was suspended for handing out gospel tracts.
Michael Leal, a high school senior in Everett, had been told by school officials that any literature he handed out must have been written by himself or by another student (see his story in video below). Last week, a district court judge in Seattle ruled in Leal's lawsuit – filed in November – that the school's requirement was unconstitutional.
"The court did make it clear in a motion for summary judgment that the school district cannot limit a student's speech to just what the student wrote themselves," he explains, "but would allow them to pass out gospel tracts or copies of the Constitution or any other speech that they believe in and want to pass out and distribute to other students."
According to Dacus, U.S. District Judge Thomas Zilly agreed with PJI that the school policy regarding handouts couldn't survive First Amendment scrutiny.
"We are hopeful [this judge's decision] will send a loud signal to school districts across the country not to even attempt to limit and prevent students from sharing their faith with other students," Dacus states.
Though Zilly upheld three aspects of school policies with which PJI attorneys disagree, Dacus says the judge's decision in favor of his client is a great victory. "[This] win is a well-deserved graduation present to our client," he describes.
Zilly also ordered that Leal's suspensions be expunged from the student's record.
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