Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey filed two amicus briefs defending students’ right to free speech in school.
“There is currently a movement by far-left progressives attempting to force their ideology onto Americans. They are working to stamp out free speech, and we’re not standing for it,” said Attorney General Bailey. “They’re censoring disfavored viewpoints on social media platforms, and now they’re policing what our children can and cannot say at school. The First Amendment isn’t up for debate. Missouri will continue to lead the way in defense of Americans’ right to free speech.”
In collaboration with Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost, Attorney General Bailey is supporting a group of students in an Ohio school district who are challenging an unconstitutional pronoun policy. This policy requires students to use the preferred pronouns of their peers and staff, even off campus and outside school hours. Attorney General Bailey’s brief contends that the policy is unlawful as it compels speech and obliges students to affirm beliefs they do not hold.
Filed at the United States Court of Appeals for the Sixth Circuit, the brief states, “The policies unconstitutionally compel students to speak the Board’s views on gender. The policies contradict a ‘fixed star in our constitutional constellation: ‘no official, high or petty, can dictate what is orthodox in politics, nationalism, religion, or other matters of opinion, or force citizens to declare by word or act their faith therein.'”
The second amicus brief challenges the unlawful restriction of students’ speech in a Massachusetts school. In this school, a student was prevented from wearing a shirt proclaiming, “There are only two genders,” because the school deemed the shirt “hate speech” and a dress code violation. The student subsequently wore a revised version of the shirt, saying, “There are only censored genders.” Once again, the school asserted a dress code violation and forbade him from wearing the shirt.
Filed at the United States Court of Appeals for the First Circuit, the brief emphasizes, “Speech that is merely offensive to a listener isn’t sufficient to justify a restriction. The foundational principle of the First Amendment asserts that the government cannot prohibit the expression of an idea just because society finds the idea offensive or disagreeable. Much political and religious speech could be seen as offensive to some.”
In the Ohio amicus brief, Attorney General Bailey is accompanied by the attorneys general of Alabama, Georgia, Idaho, Indiana, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, Ohio, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.
In the Massachusetts brief, Attorney General Bailey is joined by the attorneys general of Alabama, Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kentucky, Louisiana, Mississippi, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, Texas, Utah, and Virginia.