Missouri Attorney General Andrew Bailey led a coalition of 16 state attorneys general in filing an amicus brief at the United States Court of Appeals for the Eighth Circuit in support of two employees who sued Springfield Public Schools (SPS) for unconstitutional diversity, equity, and inclusion training that took place in 2020. The employees assert that SPS violated their rights when it pressured them to affirm the district’s beliefs about “racial equity.”
“Springfield’s policy in this case follows a widespread movement favoring a left-wing political agenda over an individual’s constitutional rights, and we’re not standing for it,” said Attorney General Andrew Bailey. “My office will continue to defend the First Amendment rights of all Missourians in the face of political attack.”
The district court ruled in favor of the school district and ordered the employees to pay nearly $313,000 in legal fees. The employees have appealed the ruling, and have gained national attention.
In the amicus brief, Attorney General Bailey and the other states call for the district court’s ruling to be overturned, arguing that the financial penalty imposed by the court “threatens to chill” future staff from exercising their First Amendment rights.
The attorneys general note that the employees suffered a cognizable injury when SPS forced them to choose between advocating for viewpoints that violate their beliefs and losing pay for being “branded a racist”.
The states also assert that SPS violated the First Amendment rights of the school employees by pressuring them to express “favored” political views, while actively discouraging disfavored viewpoints.
Joining Attorney General Bailey in filing the lawsuit are the attorneys general from Arkansas, Georgia, Idaho, Iowa, Kansas, Kentucky, Montana, Nebraska, North Dakota, South Carolina, Tennessee, Texas, Utah, Virginia, and West Virginia.
The full amicus brief can be read by clicking or tapping here.