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9th Circuit Court of Appeals Upholds Former Teacher’s Right to Wear “Make America Great Again” Hat in School

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A former teacher in Vancouver, Washington has been vindicated by the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals, who ruled that his wearing a hat supporting former President Donald Trump to school was protected speech under the First Amendment. The teacher, identified as Dodge, had brought a “Make America Great Again” baseball cap with him to an Evergreen Public Schools building twice before the 2019-2020 school year.

The first occasion was to a staff-only cultural sensitivity and racial bias training. Wy’east Middle School Principal Caroline Garret allegedly told him to use better judgment. Dodge said he was “verbally attacked” by Garret and other school employees after bringing the hat again, and that retaliation amounted to a violation of his First Amendment rights.

The 9th Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with Dodge, ruling that his wearing the hat was protected speech under the First Amendment. The court noted that the hat was not disruptive and did not interfere with the school’s educational mission.

The ruling is a victory for Dodge, who was seeking a declaration that his First Amendment rights were violated, as well as damages and attorney’s fees. It is also a reminder of the importance of the First Amendment in protecting free speech, even in the context of a school setting.

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