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Citizen Appeals Ruling in Viewpoint Discrimination Lawsuit Against Lexington School District One Over School Choice Debate

July 25, 2007

LEXINGTON, SC — Randy Page, a Lexington resident and parent of two school-age children, filed a notice of appeal in federal court today, challenging a district court’s ruling that Lexington School District One did not violate his First Amendment rights by denying him the same access to the School District’s resources as provided to other private parties to present his views on the “Put Parents In Charge” legislation.

The lawsuit stems from the School District’s refusal to grant Mr. Page’s request for access to the District’s publicly-funded information distribution system (e-mail, newsletters and website) to present his views in favor of school choice after the District had provided other third parties with access to the system to criticize and speak out against the politically charged issue.  Despite evidence that the School District created a forum with taxpayer-supported resources and then discriminated against Mr. Page based solely on his viewpoint by preventing him from gaining access to that forum, the district court ruled in favor of the School District, finding that Mr. Page’s constitutional rights had not been violated.

By filing his notice of appeal, Mr. Page now takes his case to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Fourth Circuit, based in Richmond, Virginia.  In another recent viewpoint discrimination case against a South Carolina school district, Child Evangelism Fellowship of S.C. v. Anderson School District Five, the Fourth Circuit reversed a district court’s ruling that rejected the plaintiff’s First Amendment challenge.  In Child Evangelism, the Fourth Circuit ruled that allowing school officials to have unfettered discretion to determine which groups may be granted access to school facilities created a risk of viewpoint discrimination, thereby violating the First Amendment’s free speech protections.  “Given its proven track record of protecting the free speech rights of citizens when the government discriminates based on viewpoint, I am confident that the Fourth Circuit will give the merits of my case due consideration on appeal,” said Mr. Page.

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