Happy Father’s Day!

Well, we’ve talked about some heavy legal issues this week, so I thought I would take a moment today to wish all of those hardworking dads out there a Happy Father’s Day!

Hey, if the U.S. Supreme Court can take the summer off, then you certainly can have a day to kick up your feet and take a load off.  After all, being a father can be tricky.

Take the Idaho dad who was issued a no-trespass order from his daughter’s school district after he tried to pick the girl up without informing his ex-wife.  He was required to show proof that he could take custody of the girl, arguments and bad behavior ensued, police were called, and – BAM – trespass order entered.

This particular order prohibited the dad from entering upon any property or school building of the district and attending any school-related events.  It also limited all communications to email and/or written mail through the superintendent’s office.

Naturally, the father sued claiming the violation of his Fourteenth Amendment right to direct the education, upbringing, and care of his child.  He lost on that issue, because it is well-settled that “if parents choose to send their children to public school, they do not have an unfettered right to access school property or school events.”

Case closed, right? 


The suit also alleged a violation of his First Amendment right to engage in constitutionally protected expression and activities, such as the right to vote, to petition the government for redress, and to peaceably assemble.

The court observed that when school property can be viewed as a “limited public forum,” the policy banning the father during those times must be “reasonable and viewpoint neutral.”  For example, in a similar case, the 9th Circuit found that banning a parent from a school basketball game, to which the school invited members of the public, might violate the First Amendment.  In this case, the court found that polling places, school board meetings, and school sporting events are traditionally limited public forums because members of the public are allowed to attend.

The court did not rule that the trespass order violated the First Amendment.  Instead, it held that a jury would have to decide if it did under the particular facts of this case.  The court allowed the case to proceed.