High school senior Michael Leal is challenging rules of the Everett Public Schools that ban virtually all student distribution of literature on campus. Attorneys with Pacific Justice Institute, who represent Leal, have been surprised both by the degree of restrictiveness in the rules and the school district’s bold claim to the court that the Supreme Court’s most famous school speech case does not apply.
PJI attorneys do not believe that any court in the country has upheld restrictions as sweeping as those at issue in this case. It also does not appear that any court has previously accepted the argument being advanced by the district that the Supreme Court’s Tinker decision “does not apply” to a student First Amendment case.
PJI President Brad Dacus commented, “This case has significant implications for students across the country. If the court endorses these sweeping restrictions, we will undoubtedly see more districts moving to enact similar bans. It is therefore very important to students and advocates of all ideological and political persuasions that we succeed in invalidating these rules. There are a wide variety of ways in which school officials can maintain order and discipline in schools. Closing off the entire interior of a large campus to literature distribution—even during lunch and non-instructional time—is not one of them.”
Oral arguments are scheduled in Leal v. Everett Public Schools on Wednesday, January 21, at 1:30 p.m. before Judge Thomas Zilly in the federal courthouse in Seattle. PJI attorney Kevin Snider will be presenting oral arguments on behalf of Leal and will be available to the media immediately following the hearing. PJI is being assisted locally in the case by Seattle attorney Conrad Reynoldson.
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