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A shocking ruling in Anderson

By Scott Tibbs, December 28, 2007

I was shocked to see the ruling by U.S. District Judge John D. Tinder that an Anderson family must pay nearly $41,000 to the Anderson school system after the family lost a lawsuit challenging the school system's dress code. This sort of Grinch-like ruling two weeks before Christmas was highly inappropriate. While "loser pays" might have precedent, this cruel ruling takes it to the extreme. The school board should not even consider making the Bell family pay that bill; it should be forgiven. If it is not forgiven, I hope that voters do not forgive the school board when they come up for re-election.

No one forced Anderson Community Schools to spend $41,000 in two months defending against a lawsuit from a family that didn't even hire an attorney. That amount of money and "a flurry of motions and deadlines" was overkill, intended to overwhelm and intimidate the Bell family into dropping the lawsuit. You won the lawsuit, ACS. Be proud of yourselves.

I agree that government schools have the right to set reasonable dress codes. My biggest concern in this case is precedent that this sets: if you challenge the government, you will be overwhelmed. If you lose, you will be punished. A unit of government will almost always have a significant financial advantage over a private individual, creating a chilling effect on citizens who believe their Constitutional rights are being violated. This is a bad omen for liberty.

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