ILNews

SCOTUS deciding whether to hear teacher firing case

Michael W. Hoskins
January 1, 2007
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The Supreme Court of the United States has asked for more information before deciding whether to accept a case involving a former Bloomington elementary school teacher fired over comments she made about the Iraq war during class.

Deborah A. Mayer, who now teaches at an elementary school in Florida, lost her job after making comments to elementary students in early 2003 - just prior to the war's beginning - that she would "honk for peace" when passing war protests. Some parents later complained about her comments, and the Monroe County Community School Corp. ultimately fired her.

She lost her claims before U.S. District Court Judge Sarah Evans Barker in Indianapolis and the 7th Circuit Court of Appeals in Chicago, which ruled in favor of the school district in January and dismissed the claim.

Today marks the due day for briefs from the school district, which initially passed on the opportunity to respond to Mayer's petition.

If the nation's highest court accepts the case, this would be the first briefing before the SCOTUS that Lebanon attorney Michael L. Schultz, with Parr Richey O'Bremskey & Morton, would have. He is asking the court to consider whether the free speech clause of the First Amendment limits a public school board's power to punish a teacher's instructional speech, when that speech is part and parcel of the approved curriculum and involves a matter of great public concern

Circuit courts are split on the issue, Schultz said, including the 7th Circuit that established in its ruling that teachers don't have any protection. Others have ruled that there's no unfettered right to restrict teacher speech on important public matters, as well as that schools have a right to censor certain speech and publications.
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  1. The $320,000 is the amount the school spent in litigating two lawsuits: One to release the report involving John Trimble (as noted in the story above) and one defending the discrimination lawsuit. The story above does not mention the amount spent to defend the discrimination suit, that's why the numbers don't match. Thanks for reading.

  2. $160k? Yesterday the figure was $320k. Which is it Indiana Lawyer. And even more interesting, which well connected law firm got the (I am guessing) $320k, six time was the fired chancellor received. LOL. (From yesterday's story, which I guess we were expected to forget overnight ... "According to records obtained by the Journal & Courier, Purdue spent $161,812, beginning in July 2012, in a state open records lawsuit and $168,312, beginning in April 2013, for defense in a federal lawsuit. Much of those fees were spent battling court orders to release an independent investigation by attorney John Trimble that found Purdue could have handled the forced retirement better")

  3. The numbers are harsh; 66 - 24 in the House, 40 - 10 in the Senate. And it is an idea pushed by the Democrats. Dead end? Ummm not necessarily. Just need to go big rather than go home. Nuclear option. Give it to the federal courts, the federal courts will ram this down our throats. Like that other invented right of the modern age, feticide. Rights too precious to be held up by 2000 years of civilization hang in the balance. Onward!

  4. I'm currently seeing someone who has a charge of child pornography possession, he didn't know he had it because it was attached to a music video file he downloaded when he was 19/20 yrs old and fought it for years until he couldn't handle it and plead guilty of possession. He's been convicted in Illinois and now lives in Indiana. Wouldn't it be better to give them a chance to prove to the community and their families that they pose no threat? He's so young and now because he was being a kid and downloaded music at a younger age, he has to pay for it the rest of his life? It's unfair, he can't live a normal life, and has to live in fear of what people can say and do to him because of something that happened 10 years ago? No one deserves that, and no one deserves to be labeled for one mistake, he got labeled even though there was no intent to obtain and use the said content. It makes me so sad to see someone I love go through this and it makes me holds me back a lot because I don't know how people around me will accept him...second chances should be given to those under the age of 21 at least so they can be given a chance to live a normal life as a productive member of society.

  5. It's just an ill considered remark. The Sup Ct is inherently political, as it is a core part of government, and Marbury V Madison guaranteed that it would become ever more so Supremely thus. So her remark is meaningless and she just should have not made it.... what she could have said is that Congress is a bunch of lazys and cowards who wont do their jobs so the hard work of making laws clear, oftentimes stops with the Sups sorting things out that could have been resolved by more competent legislation. That would have been a more worthwhile remark and maybe would have had some relevance to what voters do, since voters cant affect who gets appointed to the supremely un-democratic art III courts.

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