Monday, July 14, 2014

Calif. School Lawyers Strip Student's Jesus Speech

When the Brawley (California) Union High School was challenged by attorneys representing class salutatorian Brooks Hamby for their action of forbidding him to deliver any graduation speech containing the words "God" or "Jesus," lawyers representing the school issued a 10-page certified letter stating that such words spoken publicly violate the First Amendment, and thus the school was obligated to censor his First Amendment free speech rights.
“Censorship of the speech was necessary to avoid an Establishment Clause violation. . . . Mr. Hamby’s salutatorian speech was a sectarian invocation, which is not legally permitted in California or the Ninth Circuit.”
-- Brawley Union High School District, via the San Diego law firm of Atkinson, Andelson, Loya, Ruud and Romo
For background, click headlines below to read previous articles:

Lord's Prayer at South Carolina Graduation, Atheists Fume

Prayer at Kentucky Graduation Despite Atheists' Demands

Texas School Cuts Mic on Christian Valedictorian Speech

Jesus, God Almighty Censored at Vermont Graduation

Indiana Graduate Praises God Despite Judge's Ruling

Federal Appeals Court Overrules Texas Judge: Christian Speech OK

Also read the long list of states enacting laws to bring religious liberty back to schools.

-- From "Brooks Hamby’s salutatorian address gains wider audience than intended Brawley Union High School community" by Karina Lopez, Staff Writer, Imperial Valley Press (El Centro, CA) 6/17/14

When Brooks Hamby delivered his salutatorian address at Brawley Union High School’s graduation ceremony on Thursday, his intention was to share a few encouraging thoughts and words from the "the biggest, bestselling book of all-time in history" with his fellow graduates.

Yet in quoting the "bestseller" the 18-year-old used the names "God" and "Jesus," which were deemed “unconstitutional” by the school’s administration, he explained.

Hamby said he was asked to omit references to "God" and "Jesus" in his rewrites, and rather than become upset or frustrated the Stanford-bound student said he tried his best to work with the administration's requests while remaining true to himself.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Liberty Institute: Brawley Union High School Censors Salutatorian, Violates Constitution" by PRNewswire-USNewswire, posted at CNBC-TV25 6/19/14

On Wednesday, Liberty Institute sent a demand letter to Brawley Union High School District officials on behalf of its client, salutatorian Brooks Hamby, whose written speech school officials repeatedly rejected claiming, "reference to religious content is inappropriate and…will not be allowed." Although Hamby eventually delivered a fourth version of his speech at his graduation ceremony, for school officials to censor three different versions of his speech – and then threaten to turn off his microphone – just because he wanted to reference his faith is a serious First Amendment violation.

After school officials rejected two drafts of Hamby's graduation speech for what they considered unconstitutional and inappropriate religious references, Hamby received his third draft with all references to God, faith, and the Bible blacked out. Despite three rejections and the threat to have his microphone turned off, Hamby presented a fourth version of his speech at the graduation ceremony. Hamby's speech contained nothing that could be considered obscene or proselytizing, but instead reflected his personal story of inspiration and faith as an integral part of his life.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "Brooks Hamby gives his thoughts on his speech heard around the U.S." by Lloyd Miller, The Desert Review (Brawley, CA) 6/16/14

When asked if the speech he gave was ad-libbed, Hamby was quick to say no. He wanted to do everything by the book.

“The speech I gave was my fourth draft,” said Hamby, “which was a variation of my first 3 drafts. On Wednesday morning I had my first draft denied by the counselor. Thursday morning my second draft was denied by the counselor and the principal. Thursday afternoon my third draft was denied by the counselor, the principal, and the superintendent. They sent me back a version of my third draft with any word or reference to God or religion blacked out. They said this would be approved. I sent the fourth draft to the counselor, the principal, and the superintendent at 5:09 p.m. on Thursday. The ceremony was at 8:00 p.m. I did not get a response on my final draft electronically and they didn’t speak to me before the speech. They never said a thing.”

After he finished [delivering his speech], the audience of several hundred comprised of his fellow students, family members, and staff responded with thundering applause.

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

From "School: We have a right to ban God" by Todd Starnes, 7/11/14

The school district, in the certified letter its attorneys sent to Liberty Institute, says . . . There will be no apology.

[Hamby] was supposed to stand in front of his graduating class as a “representative example of the success of the school’s own educational mission,” the attorneys wrote, referencing a previous court case.

Are they trying to tell us the reason the district took offense was because Brooks Hamby thanks God for his success instead of the school district?

[Attorney Jeremy Dys of Liberty Institute] said if the school district is hankering for a legal fight – “we may be willing to oblige them.”

To read the entire opinion column above, CLICK HERE.

From "Brooks Hamby looks to the future" by Lloyd Miller, The Desert Review (Brawley, CA) 7/11/14

The school was asked to have a meeting with Hamby and his attorney. They requested that the school give a public apology that stated religious discrimination will not happen in the future.

The school responded by denying the request to meet with Hamby and have hired attorneys to fight him.

“It’s shocking that the administration would want to spend that much money in potential litigation,” said Dys.  “This could cost taxpayers up to a seven figure sum. We have no problem doing that if that’s what they want to do. It would be best if they would come out and apologize to Brooks for censoring his First Amendment rights. The real winner here so far is the law firm out of San Diego. They are walking away with a lot of money. Brooks, in the meantime, is suffering with this black cloud over his graduation. This all goes to show what the school feels about the First Amendment.”

To read the entire article above, CLICK HERE.

Also read Atheists, Liberals Lament Recent Supreme Court Religious Liberty Rulings