The Southern Legal Resource Center
For Immediate Release:
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CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA – The school officials who turned Southern Legal Resource Center client Jacqueline Duty away from her high school prom received some less than favorable attention today from the Thomas Jefferson Center for the Protection of Free Expression.
The Center today published its 14th annual “Jefferson Muzzles” citations, which are bestowed upon institutions and individuals that have committed “egregious affronts to free speech.” Among the recipients of the dubious honor were administrators at Russell High School in Kentucky, who last May physically barred Ms. Duty from attending her senior prom because she was wearing an evening gown styled after the Confederate flag.
Through the SLRC and its local co-counsel, atty. Earl-Ray Neal, Ms. Duty is seeking an undisclosed amount of actual and punitive damages from the school’s principal and assistant principal, as well as the local school board. Her case, which has attracted international publicity, is set for trial in Federal court next February.
“We’re very gratified that the Jefferson Center has seen fit to call attention to the way Ms. Duty was treated,” said Roger McCredie, the SLRC’s Executive Director. “Their ‘muzzle award’ calls attention to the absurdity and hypocrisy of the school’s actions as well as their hurtful and humiliating effect on our client.”
The SLRC is a civil rights law firm that specializes in cases involving Southern heritage and culture. In 2002 the SLRC and atty. Neal were victorious in another Kentucky case, Castorina v. Madison County Schools, which overturned a lower court’s ruling that upheld a school system’s ban on Confederate symbols.
Other recipients of the Jefferson Muzzle “awards” included the U.S. Marshals Service, for seizing and erasing a reporter’s tape of a speech by Justice Antonin Scalia; and both the Democratic and Republican national parties for remaining silent while police cracked down on protest groups outside their conventions.