WINNING: Appeals court rules teacher wearing MAGA hat to school was protected under First Amendment
· Jan 5, 2023 ·

A win for freedom of speech!

Eric Dodge, a former longtime science teacher in Vancouver, Washington, was reprimanded for wearing a "Make America Great Again" baseball cap twice to his school before the 2019-2020 school year.

Yep. Just twice, and before the school year even began.

The first time Dodge wore the MAGA hat was at a staff-only cultural sensitivity and racial bias training (which I'm sure was totally not politically motivated) at an Evergreen Public Schools building.

Dodge alleged that Caroline Garrett, then principal of Wy'east Middle School, told him not to wear the hat again and that he needed to use "better judgment." He claimed that he was later "verbally attacked" by Garrett and other school employees when he wore the hat the second time, the very next day.

Getting yelled at and attacked for wearing a MAGA hat sounds about right.

I'm sure we've all been there.

In a ruling on December 29, 2022, the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled in favor of Dodge, concluding that his wearing a hat supporting former (and future??) President Donald Trump to school was protected speech under the First Amendment.

The opinion written by Judge Danielle J. Forrest reads:

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. Therefore, Principal Garrett's asserted administrative interest in preventing disruption among staff did not outweigh the plaintiff's right to free speech.

Michael Estok, one of Dodge's attorneys, described the events of 2020 as "textbook violations" of harassment, intimidation, and bullying policies.

People who are public employees enjoy certain First Amendment rights. They shouldn't be targeted or treated differently because they have certain political viewpoints. That's what's going on here.

The appeals panel ruled that Dodge wearing a red hat was a message of public concern that he was expressing as a private citizen. They concluded that though some cry babies (my word, not theirs) were upset about the hat, the district provided "no evidence of actual or tangible disruption to school operations."

If schools can be covered in rainbow flags, BLM posters, and literal SEX TOYS, then yeah, this guy better be allowed to wear a red hat.


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