(SNews) – The 9th Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals has ruled that wearing a “Make American Great Again” (MAGA) hat is protected as an expression of free speech rights.
The court issued the ruling in the case “Dodge v. Evergreen School District.”
The judges decided that a Washington middle school teacher was exercising his free speech rights while wearing his red MAGA hat at school training sessions.
Teacher Eric Dodge started to wear his MAGA hat to school meetings in 2019.
However, principal Caroline Garrett threatened disciplinary actions against Dodge if he continued to wear the hat.
Dodge claimed principal Garrett called him a racist and a homophobe for wearing the hat.
Garrett warned Dodge that he would “need to have your union rep” if he continued to wear the hat to school.
A three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals said there was no evidence that the teacher, Eric Dodge, had caused any actual disruption by bringing the hat supporting former President Donald Trump to teacher-only trainings at his Vancouver, Washington, school.
MAGA hat is free speech, says court in reviving threatened teacher's lawsuit https://t.co/11I21QEvNw pic.twitter.com/z07WdXf4fj
— Reuters (@Reuters) December 30, 2022
Trump-appointed Judge Danielle Forrest ruled, “Some may not like the political message being conveyed is par for the course and cannot itself be a basis for finding disruption of a kind that outweighs the speaker’s First Amendment rights.”
The case originally went before U.S. District Judge James Robart, who ruled the principal’s actions were not unconstitutional.
The 9th Circuit, however, reversed the District judge’s decision, ruling staff members being offended is not enough to override Dodge’s Constitutional free-speech rights.
A good free speech opinion out of the 9th Cir. Wearing a MAGA hat during a training session doesn't disrupt school operations. Teachers can't be disciplined for expressing political opinions absent some showing that doing so interferes with their function as a public employee. https://t.co/IoP3u4A14X
— Eric Sell (@EricSell) December 29, 2022