Court Determines Christian Message on T-Shirt Offensive
Ninth Circuit Judge Delivers a Third Strike Against Traditional Values
By Jim Brown
SAN DIEGO, Apr. 26, 2006 (headlines.agapepress.org) - A constitutional attorney is denouncing a ruling by a three-judge panel of the Ninth U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals that bars a San Diego high school student from wearing a T-shirt displaying Christians messages in opposition to homosexuality.
With a 2-1 decision, the Ninth Circuit upheld a lower-court ruling against Chase Harper, who was suspended by Poway High School for wearing a T-shirt displaying the messages: "Homosexuality is shameful" and "Our school embraced what God has condemned."
Harper had worn the shirt -- without incident -- during an annual pro-homosexual event in 2004 known as the "Day of Silence." But when he wore it to school the next day and was ordered to remove it, he refused. The lawsuit emerged from that confrontation.
In writing the majority opinion, Judge Stephen Reinhardt -- the same judge who has ruled previously that parents have no "fundamental right" to be the exclusive provider of information regarding sexual matters to their children (2005) and that the Pledge of Allegiance is unconstitutional (2002) -- held that, in this case, the school did not violate Harper's constitutional rights because the message on his shirt was offensive to homosexual students.
Calling Reinhardt's opinion "the quintessential example of judicial activism," Center for Law & Policy chief counsel Steve Crampton adds his own take: "To read the opinion gives one the eerie sense of what it must have been like to live in Stalin's Russia or Hitler's Germany -- dissenting voices simply will not be tolerated." And Reinhardt, adds Crampton, "certainly is in competition for -- if not the winner of -- the most liberal judicial activist in the nation."