Public school officials were within their right to silence Brittany McComb when she began to proselytize during her 2006 high school valedictorian speech, a federal appeals court has ruled.
The senior began to tell her fellow graduates how God’s love “is something that we all desire, it’s unprejudiced, it’s merciful, it’s free, it’s real, it’s huge, it’s everlasting…. God’s love is so great that He Gave up His only son.” At that point, administrators pulled the plug on her microphone.
The district had reviewed her original speech – which included two references to the Lord, nine mentions of God and one mention of Christ – and warned McComb that she could reference her faith, but could not proselytize.
School officials deleted a part in which she discussed God’s love being so great that he gave his only son to suffer an excruciating death in order to cover everyone’s shortcomings and forge a path to heaven.
After the incident, McComb filed a lawsuit alleging that the school violated her free speech and equal protection rights by shutting off the microphone.
The 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals was unpersuaded by her complaint.
“[School officials] did not violate McComb’s free speech and free exercise rights by preventing her from making a proselytizing graduation speech,” ruled Judge Alex Kozinski. “Nor did they violate McComb’s right to equal protection; they did not allow other graduation speakers to proselytize.”
McComb’s attorneys said they will appeal the McComb v. Crehan decision to the U.S. Supreme Court.