Navigation
Download the AMN app for your mobile device today - FREE!

Judge rules OR student can wear pro-Trump border wall shirt to school

Border wall T-shirt (Shirt2Play/Product Shot)
June 04, 2018

A federal judge in Oregon ruled in favor of a high school senior who sued his school after he was told he can’t wear a pro-Trump border wall shirt in class.

The judge recently issued a temporary restraining order allowing Addision Barnes to wear his “Border Wall Construction Co” shirt at school, upholding his First Amendment rights.

Barnes, a Liberty High School student, said he was asked to cover up his “Donald J. Trump Border Wall Construction Co” shirt or go home.

The T-shirt had the 2016 Trump quote: “The wall just got 10 feet taller.”

ADVERTISEMENT

The student refused to cover up the shirt and decided to go home instead, but the school treated his leaving as a suspension, which was later withdrawn.

A lawsuit was then filed asking for Barnes’ First Amendment rights to be upheld and for nominal damages.

The school said that Barnes was creating a “hostile learning environment” by wearing the shirt in “People and Politics” class, but Barnes argued that the teacher’s room boasts a sign that says: “Sanctuary City, Welcome Home.”

While some found the shirt to be offensive, the federal judge ruled that “[there’s] not enough to go on here to show that sort of legitimate concern justifying censorship of this core political speech.”

“I have my First Amendment and it’s not right what they’re doing. I had a teacher who had a pro-sanctuary city poster in her room which was up all year, yet as I wear a pro-border wall shirt, I get silenced and suspended for wearing that,” Barnes said.

The lawsuit claimed that Barnes wore the T-shirt to school for his “People and Politics” class that had planned to engage in a discussion on immigration. The teacher, as well as others, found Barnes’ shirt to be offensive.

The attorney for the school district, Peter Mersereau, said that the school has “a population that is one-third Hispanic,” which was why the school district had an issue with Barnes’ shirt.

ADVERTISEMENT

“So First Amendment protections vary from high school to high school? The T-shirt is core protected speech, and walking down the streets of Hillsboro, no state official — petty or grand — would be able to do much about that T-shirt legitimately under the Constitution,” the judge said.

Barnes’ lawyer said the student will likely wear the shirt again before the school year ends June 6.