• Judge rules school suspending student for handing out religious pamphlets 'unconstitutional'

    Updated:

    EVERETT, Wash. - A federal judge ruled Everett Public Schools' move was unconstitutional when they suspended a student for preaching about Jesus and handing out pamphlets.

     

    Quick Facts:

    • Michael Leal suspended for preaching, passing out pamphlets on campus
    • District says Leal was being disruptive
    • Lawsuit from student says free speech violated by district
    • District policy says pre-printed materials cannot be handed out at school

    Attorneys attended a hearing on Friday in the federal case of high school student preacher Michael Leal from Everett who sued the district after was suspended for preaching on campus.

    Student preacher's case

    Leal, a Cascade High senior, is suing the district after it suspended him for sharing his faith on campus.

    He handed out pamphlets and preached to students during breaks. Leal says he's just trying to share his First Amendment right.

    “People talk about a lot of other things and I feel like I should be able to talk about what I want to talk about. It’s about Jesus. It’s about the Bible,” said Leal.

    The school says Leal was disruptive and students complained.

    District officials also told a judge in a previous hearing that their policy allows Leal to hand out material he has written himself, but not pre-printed material.

    Leal's attorney, Brad Dacus, has latched onto that argument.

    That would make it so he could not write out the First Amendment or the Constitution and hand it to people. That is an obvious problem," said Dacus.

    The judge's ruling

    The judge ruled that the district's policy only allowing students to pass out literature they wrote themselves is what has been ruled 'unconstitutional' in this case.

     Leal's suspensions will be expunged, according to the ruling. He will be allowed to pass out religious pamphlets.

    District policy says literature can only be passed before, after and outside of school.

    Leal's attorney says they are unafraid to push the case all the way to the Supreme Court.

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