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Federal judge to rule whether Hudson High School student's First Amendment rights violated

Posted by Ralph Ranalli June 19, 2007 10:15 AM


A U.S. District Court judge will decide whether to dismiss a lawsuit which alleging Hudson High School violated a former student’s rights by removing posters that advertised a controversial conservative web site.

Judge Patti B. Saris has taken under advisement a motion to dismiss the case filed by the town’s Boston attorney, John J. Davis. Christopher Bowler was a senior and co-president of the school's Conservative Club in May 2005 when he filed the lawsuit against the town, the school, Principal John Stapelfeld, Assistant Principal David Champigny, and Superintendent Sheldon Berman.

Bowler alleged that the school violated his right to freedom of speech by removing posters that advertised the club and included the web address of an affiliated group, the High School Conservative Clubs of America, which at the time linked to videos of beheadings made by Iraqi insurgents. Davis, the town's attorney, has argued that the beheading videos are not protected speech and, even if they are, the school is entitled to take steps to protect its students, some as young as 12 years old.

The court showdown comes after a year of negotiations failed to produce a settlement.

-- Jennifer Rosinski

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