Judge: Driver’s suit over flag firing should go to trial

Posted on August 7, 2012

GRANTS PASS, Ore. — A school bus driver who filed a lawsuit after he was fired for flying a Confederate flag from his personal vehicle should have his day in court, a federal magistrate said.

The Associated Press reports that Phoenix-Talent School District 4 Superintendent Ben Bergreen had seen the flag on Ken Webber's truck parked at the bus yard owned by the school district and told bus company First Student he wanted it removed because it violated the district's anti-harassment policy. Webber refused to remove the flag or park his truck off school property and was fired last year. He then sued to get his job back.

First Student and the school district argued that the case from Webber should be dismissed because he flew the flag as an expression of what he called his "redneck lifestyle," not protected political speech. However, U.S. Magistrate Judge Mark D. Clarke ruled against a motion to dismiss the case, writing that there is enough evidence to allow a jury to find that Webber flew the flag to express his feelings for history and heritage, which other courts have included in freedom of speech protections guaranteed by the First Amendment.

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Related Topics: First Student Inc., Oregon

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