August 22, 2012
Bus Driver Wins Big Free Speech Victory
Earlier in the year, AMERICAN FREE PRESS wrote about Ken Webber, the 29-year-old married father of four, who was fired from his job as a school bus driver in Oregon, when the superintendent of the school district he worked for caught a glimpse of a novelty Confederate flag hanging from the CB antenna on his pickup truck, which was parked at the bus depot. Webber had been parking his vehicle there for a year-and-a-half and nobody said a word. But Ben Bergreen, the Superintendent of the Phoenix-Talent School District didn’t like Confederate flags and felt they are a symbol of racism.
The firing made the newspapers and an attorney over 250-miles away read the article and was spurred to action to sue on the bus driver’s behalf, representing him for free.
In two exclusive interviews with Webber’s attorney, Tom Boardman explained the beginnings of the case and the latest development.
“The Webber firing made the newspaper and I talked to my colleagues and I volunteered to call Mr. Webber up and make sure that he was OK because he looked like he was all by himself,” said Boardman.
“I thought I had no duty but to say ‘yes,’” explained Boardman. “I am related to over a hundred Confederate soldiers, and I thought I owed it to my country.”
When the defendants received the lawsuit, their attorneys filed a motion to dismiss the suit.
“The defendants filed a motion for summary judgment,” explained Boardman. “A summary judgment motion is a motion that says that the facts are so clear that there’s no dispute of them. We resisted that motion and last week the judge issued a 35-page ruling denying the vast majority of their motion.”
AFP commented that the ruling was a long one considering the narrow scope of the case.
“It’s a big case, in that it involves the First Amendment. And federal judges like constitutional questions,” said Boardman.
“This of course involves a man being fired for something that is a little near and dear to the American heart, which is his statement of his opinion, and the court really gave us a very favorable opinion.”
“We’ve asked for his job back,” said Boardman. “We’re also going to be seeking a permanent injunction that the school district and [the bus company] not violate the First Amendment again in the future.
AFP asked what the next step is after the defendants’ right to appeal expires on August 20th.
“If they don’t appeal, then we will get a trial date,” said Boardman. “They’ve got to be doing their due diligence and looking over this opinion and seeing if there’s anything that would give them sufficient hope of prevailing on an appeal. I think this is a strong opinion. I really don’t think that an appeal would have an awful lot of merit to it.”
The defendants could settle the case also, explained Boardman.
AFP will report on further developments of the case.
© 2012 American Free Press
On The Web: http://americanfreepress.net/?p=5634