A federal appeals court ruled last week that a teacher in Washington who wore a MAGA cap to racial bias training and cultural sensitivity training was protected by the law. The court noted that the hat did not create a “tangible disturbance” that would violate the teacher's First Amendment rights.
A panel of the US Court of Appeals for the District of Columbia ruled that the First Amendment protected the speech of Eric Dodge, a former teacher at Wyeast Middle School, who wore a hat that read "MAGA" during the training sessions. Despite the other teachers' complaints, the court ruled that his choice to wear the hat was protected speech.
Although some of the participants in the training may have been offended or outraged by Dodge's political expression, the court ruled that there was no evidence suggesting that the training had disrupted the school's operations. Judge Amy J. Forrest, who was one of the judges who ruled in favor of Dodge, referred to political speech as an example of protected speech.
According to court documents, Dodge was asked by the school's principal Caroline Garret to use better judgment after he wore the hat to the training.
After he removed his hat the following day, Dodge claimed that he was verbally attacked by the other school employees, who he said had violated his First Amendment rights. According to court documents, the principal did not use any curse words during the interaction with Dodge.
Dodge then filed a harassment complaint against the school's former principal, Caroline Garret. However, the latter was later asked to resign and Dodge was transferred to another school. Dodge then sued the school district and its human resources officer in federal court, claiming that they violated his rights.
The appeals court also ruled that the school district did not violate Dodge's constitutional rights when it relocated him to another school. According to Michael McFarland, a lawyer for the school district, the ruling was very positive.
The preceding is a summary of an article that originally appeared on Washington Examiner.