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U.S. Supreme Court refuses to hear banner case from Poway teacher

April 11, 2012 |  3:48 pm

The legal fight by a high school math teacher in San Diego to put up banners mentioning God appears finished -- with a victory for school officials who ordered the banners taken down.

The U.S. Supreme Court, without comment, has refused to hear an appeal on behalf of Bradley Johnson, a teacher in the Poway Unified School District.

The high court's action lets stand an appeals court ruling that the school district, like any employer, has the right to restrict the workplace speech of its employees. Johnson had appealed that ruling.

Johnson took down the banners, including ones reading "In God We Trust," "One Nation Under God" and "God Bless America," in 2007 from his classroom at Westview High School in the Rancho Penasquitos neighborhood of San Diego.

In his legal action, he insisted the banners are patriotic expressions deeply rooted in American history and that his 1st Amendment rights were being violated.

District Judge Roger Benitez in 2010 sided with Johnson. But last fall, a three-judge panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals overturned that ruling.

Johnson had the banners in his classroom since 1982 until a new principal found them objectionable.


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Photo: Bradley Johnson and banners. Credit: Thomas More Legal Center