Do you have Moms for Liberty in your district?

Moms for Liberty is a fast-growing nonprofit organization that vigorously supports transparency and parental rights in public education.  If you have a chapter in your district, you have probably heard from members during public comment at the board meetings.

In Florida, the organization and four of its members sued a district alleging that the board was suppressing their free speech rights.  They made three specific claims and seeing as how there are three Daily Dawgs left to be done this week, I’m going to take them up one by one. 

Spoiler alert: the federal district court rejected all three of the claims made by the Moms and the 11th Circuit affirmed that decision.

Issue number one: was the school’s policy about public comment “content neutral”?  The school’s policy was the usual.  It gave the board chair the authority to “interrupt, warn or terminate” a presentation if the speaker violated decorum standards.  It prohibited comments that were “too lengthy, personally directed, abusive, obscene, or irrelevant.” 

The court pointed out that a public school board meeting is a limited public forum and as such, it does not have to be “content neutral.”  In a “limited public forum” discussion can be limited to those topics germane to the purpose of the meeting.  Public comment at a school board meeting is about the policies and practices of the school.  Thus when one of the Moms in Florida ventured off into comments like ”the Democratic party accepts ‘the murder of full-term babies with abortion’ and believes ‘white babies are born racist and oppressive’ he was sorta wandering far afield.  

By the way, the “Mom” in question is identified in the court’s opinion as a man, so you apparently don’t have to be a “mom” to be a Mom for Liberty.

Even though the policy about public comment does not have to be “content neutral” it does have to be  “viewpoint neutral” and reasonable. And it was.  The court held that prohibiting comments that are “too lengthy, personally directed, abusive, obscene, or irrelevant” is permissible, as long as the policy is applied evenly.

So “on its face” as the lawyers like to say, the rules that the board chair followed were content neutral and reasonable. So far so good for the school district. But the next challenge was about how these standards were applied. Did the board chair reveal her own bias in how she ran the meetings?

Tune in tomorrow….

It’s Moms for Liberty v. Brevard Public Schools, decided by the 11th Circuit in an “unpublished” opinion on November 21, 2022.  The District Court opinion was decided on January 24, 2022 and can be found at 582 F.Supp.3d 1214. 


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Tomorrow: but was the board chair fair?