Southeastern Legal Foundation urges Eighth Circuit to uphold educators’ First Amendment rights

ST. LOUIS, MO (Feb. 15, 2024): Today, the Eighth Circuit Court of Appeals heard Southeastern Legal Foundation’s (SLF’s) First Amendment appeal on behalf of Brooke Henderson and Jennifer Lumley. Ms. Henderson and Ms. Lumley were required to affirm anti-racism as part of a mandatory, district-wide training held by their employer, Springfield Public Schools (SPS). Their views supporting colorblindness and equality were also discriminated against, as SPS taught during the training that their views supported white supremacy. On appeal, SLF asked the court to uphold Ms. Henderson’s and Ms. Lumley’s First Amendment rights by ruling that SPS compelled their speech and discriminated against their views.

SLF Vice President of Litigation Braden Boucek states, “As we explained in court today, Springfield Public Schools went too far when it compelled Ms. Henderson and Ms. Lumley to abandon colorblindness and commit to anti-racism. The First Amendment protects both the right to speak and the right to refrain from speaking altogether. SPS violated the First Amendment in both ways, and we are confident that the Constitution will prevail.”

SLF Executive Director Kimberly Hermann states, “Ms. Henderson and Ms. Lumley are two brave educators standing up for what is right. They do not support SPS’s view that colorblindness is white supremacy or that people are inherently privileged or oppressed based on the color of their skin. And try as it might, SPS cannot force them to adopt that point of view through coercive tactics like this training session.”

Listen to oral argument.

Download press release.

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