The Oregon student who took his school to court after he was suspended for wearing a pro-Trump shirt won a settlement of $25,000.
On Tuesday lawyers for Liberty High School student Addison Barnes announced they were receiving the monetary reward from the school district, in addition to an apology letter from his principal following his suspension for wearing a Trump border wall t-shirt.
Barnes says he’s glad he was able to put an end to the double standard and selective enforcement against students who display pro-Trump gear.
“I brought this case to stand up for myself and other students who might be afraid to express their right-of-center views,” Barnes stated. “Everyone knows that if a student wears an anti-Trump shirt to school, the teachers won’t think twice about it. But when I wore a pro-Trump shirt, I got suspended. That’s not right.”
Back in January Barnes was told by his principal to cover his shirt, which featured a “Border Wall Construction Crew” graphic, after another faculty member was reportedly offended. It also featured the famous Trump slogan, “The wall just got 10 feet taller.” Barnes was marked with a half-day suspension after he was ordered to go home following his decision to again display the shirt later the same day.
Oregon Live reports: “School officials had defended their actions in court, saying the shirt would contribute to a ‘hostile learning environment’ and would make students feel insecure in school, noting that about 33 percent of the high school’s students are of Hispanic descent.”
The school district agreed to pay out after an Oregon district court decided on May 29 they had indeed violated Barnes’ First Amendment rights when they forced him to cover up the shirt.
“Political speech, whether popular or not, is protected by the Constitution,” stated Barnes’ lawyer Mike McLane, who’s also Oregon’s House Minority leader. “High school students have the right to express political views subject to restrictions that must be equally applied to all students. This case reinforced that proposition.”
Another lawyer for Barnes, Brad Benbrook, also commended him for his courage in waging the legal battle against the double standard.
“Addison Barnes should be commended for his courage. The message on his shirt wasn’t the point of this case. We brought the case to police the thought police. The First Amendment does not allow what is going on in too many schools today,” Benbrook stated.
The settlement will go toward legal fees.