Federal judge blocks enforcement of school board ban against concerned conservative activist parent

A concerned parent and conservative activist with a history of speaking out at local school board meetings in Maine, Shawn McBreairty, was banned in May from attending any additional meetings for the remainder of the year due to alleged violations of the school board’s policy for public participation.

McBreairty filed a lawsuit against Maine’s Regional School Unit 22 over its alleged violation of his First Amendment-protected free speech rights, and a federal judge just issued a temporary restraining order against enforcement of the ban, the Conservative Brief reported.

The School board’s ban violates protected free speech

The Washington Free Beacon reported that McBreairty had been banned in May from attending future RSU22 school board meetings either in-person or virtually for the remainder of the year — enforced with criminal trespass threats from the local police — after he had allegedly violated provisions of the board’s policy that prohibited criticism of specific school employees or members as well as speech that could be deemed “gossip” or “abusive and vulgar.”

At issue here was a recording McBreairty played during an April meeting of a conversation he had with the board’s chair, Heath Miller, in which they discussed the “obscene” pornographic material in books about transgenderism that were available in the school’s library for young children.

In the 28-page order on July 20 granting McBreairty’s requested temporary restraining order against the ban, federal District Judge Nancy Torresen determined that McBreairty’s playing of the recorded conversation, as well as his reading aloud from a book in a prior incident, were not in violation of the policy because they were protected elements of free speech under the First Amendment.

The judge wrote at one point, “Here, it is hard to shake the sense that the School Board is restricting the speech because the Board disagrees with both Mr. McBreairty’s opinions and the unpleasantness that accompanies them.”

A win for the First Amendment

“I’m trying to be the tip of the sword for people in Maine because cancel culture is so venomous here,” McBreairty told the Free Beacon of his court victory. “It’s time that students, parents, taxpayers, and teachers start to find their own voice.”

His attorney, Marc Randazza, also told the outlet that the school board’s policy itself was likely unconstitutional and should be completely overturned. “There’s a policy against criticizing any school employees or officials,” he said. “Now you can go there and say nice things about him, but you can’t criticize him. Tell me how in the heck that passes the First Amendment muster.”

McBreairty and Randazza also spoke with Fox News about their legal win over the school board, and McBreairty said, “This is a huge first step for parents in Maine and across the country to be able to use their protected Free Speech to address the educational issues we are seeing in these public schools. It’s a win for everyone, regardless of political affiliation, sex, race, or sexuality, as the First Amendment speaks for all Americans.”

“Power drunk” school board officials acting like “soviets” to silence dissenting speech

Randazza also spoke positively of the judge’s ruling and chastised the school board for its “power drunk” policies in dealing with the general public and concerned parents.

“Government apparatchiks can’t banish people from public life because they don’t like being challenged. Serving in the government means you have to accept criticism. If you can’t do that, you have no business in that position,” the attorney said. “I’m very impressed with how much work the judge put into her ruling, upholding the First Amendment rights of someone with whom I presume she does not personally agree. But that’s what a principled judge does.”

“The difference between me and my client and the defendants in this case is that, in the future, when someone’s trying to stifle their freedom of expression, I’ll be there to defend their rights as well. These censorious communists would never stand up for an opponent’s speech,” Randazza continued and added that the board members were “power drunk” and that “I hope that this slap across their totalitarian faces sobers them up and they start behaving like American government officials, not soviets.”

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