Brawley Union High School (BUHS) in Brawley, Calif., recently sent a 10 page letter to graduate Brooks Hamby, who made religious references in his graduation speech, claiming that it has the right to censor speeches.
Hamby was told three times by BUHS not to mention religion in his salutatorian speech at commencement ceremonies on June 12, which he did anyway (video below).
“It is well established in the Ninth Circuit and California that a public school salutatorian has no constitutional right to lead a prayer or include sectarian or proselytizing content in his/her graduation speech,” stated the letter from a San Diego law firm representing BUHS, noted FoxNews.com.
“The district was legally obligated to ensure prayers and other sectarian, proseltyzing content were omitted from Mr. Hamby’s speech,” added the school's law firm. “Censorship of the speech was necessary to avoid an Establishment Clause violation.”
This incident began when Hamby and his attorney Jeremy Dys, from the Christian-based Liberty Institute, sent a letter to BUHS asking for a public apology that would say how religious discrimination wouldn't happen in the future at the school.
“We thought at this point that we were going to put this behind us,” Hamby told The Desert Review. “I’m looking forward to school. I wasn’t expecting BUHS to do anything. The school board hired attorneys until 2017 at their closed session meeting. This team of attorneys sent a 10 page letter to me. My attorney, Jeremy Dys with the Liberty Institute, said it cost anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 in taxpayer funds.”
However, it doesn't look like Hamby's attorney wants to put this behind them.
“All options are on the table,” stated Dys. “We are reviewing this carefully. It appears that the school does not want to put this behind them. They have made a significant investment on an invitation to litigation. If it’s litigation they would like to see here so we can exonerate Brooks for his civil rights, that’s an invitation we might simply accept.”
Hamby has already been accepted at Stanford, so it's not clear why he needs to be exonerated as his high school is not a legal court of law.