Student Sues School for Banning His Trump Border Wall Shirt


An Oregon high school senior is suing his school district after he says he was removed from class by a security officer and suspended for wearing a T-shirt supporting President Donald Trump’s proposed border wall.

Addison Barnes, who attends Liberty High School outside of Portland, filed his lawsuit last week in federal district court, charging that Hillsboro School District violated his First Amendment right to freedom of speech.

The shirt Barnes, 18, wore in January read, “Donald J. Trump Border Wall Construction Co.,” and quoted the president saying, “The wall just got 10 feet taller.”

The student recounted on “Fox & Friends First” on Friday that he was wearing the shirt in his “People and Politics” class during a discussion on immigration, when the assistant principal approached him and instructed him to join her in the hallway.

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The assistant principal told Barnes that a teacher and some students were offended by his shirt, and he could either cover it up or go home.

“At first I covered it for a few minutes. Then I thought to myself this isn’t right, this goes against the First Amendment and my beliefs, so I took the jacket off,” the student told Fox.

The assistant principal saw he had removed his jacket and directed a security officer to escort him out of class. He was then suspended.

Barnes contended the school is not treating his political views equally with others, noting a teacher had a pro-sanctuary city poster hung in her classroom his entire junior year.

Do you think this student's 1st Amendment right to freedom of speech was violated?

“As a conservative that might be considered offensive to me,” he said, “yet as a conservative when I wear a pro-Trump or pro-border wall shirt, I get suspended for that. So I don’t see that there’s much fairness in that.”

Fellow Liberty High senior Mark Guzman told KGW that their “school is very Latino-populated.”

“(The shirt) offended a lot of people. In the hall, kids would ask me if I’d seen it,” Guzman recalled.

Nevertheless, Barnes stated to Fox many fellow student have told him they support his right to wear the shirt, even if they do not agree with his views.

Barnes’ legal brief filed May 18 explains, “For nearly half a century, it has been the ‘unmistakable holding’ of the Supreme Court that students do not ‘shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.'”

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“Through his shirt, Barnes sought to convey his views on a national debate about a serious political and societal issue,” the brief adds.

Barnes’ attorney, Mike McLane, also argued that his client’s shirt should not qualify as a violation of the district’s dress code, which prohibits “clothing decorated with illustrations, words, or phrases that are disruptive or potentially disruptive, and/or that promote superiority of one group over another.”

The liberal Oregon ACLU agrees that the student’s constitutional right to free speech was violated.

“The school clearly crossed the line when it required a student to remove a T-shirt that voiced support for Donald Trump’s border wall or face a suspension,” said Oregon ACLU legal director Mat dos Santos. “This shirt is mean spirited, but it isn’t a ‘disturbance’ under First Amendment case law.”

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Randy DeSoto has written more than 3,000 articles for The Western Journal since he joined the company in 2015. He is a graduate of West Point and Regent University School of Law. He is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths" and screenwriter of the political documentary "I Want Your Money."
Randy DeSoto is the senior staff writer for The Western Journal. He wrote and was the assistant producer of the documentary film "I Want Your Money" about the perils of Big Government, comparing the presidencies of Ronald Reagan and Barack Obama. Randy is the author of the book "We Hold These Truths," which addresses how leaders have appealed to beliefs found in the Declaration of Independence at defining moments in our nation's history. He has been published in several political sites and newspapers.

Randy graduated from the United States Military Academy at West Point with a BS in political science and Regent University School of Law with a juris doctorate.
Harrisburg, Pennsylvania
Graduated dean's list from West Point
United States Military Academy at West Point, Regent University School of Law
Books Written
We Hold These Truths
Professional Memberships
Virginia and Pennsylvania state bars
Phoenix, Arizona
Languages Spoken
Topics of Expertise
Politics, Entertainment, Faith