An attorney with Liberty Counsel says he’s not surprised a federal judge didn’t force a North Mississippi high school to hold a prom despite a lawsuit from the ACLU.
In February, Constance McMillen, an 18-year-old lesbian student at Itawamba Agricultural High School, approached school officials and asked if she could bring her girlfriend to the prom. Administrators said no, then cancelled the prom, citing distractions caused by the situation. The ACLU then sued in an effort to force the district to hold the event.
On Tuesday, a federal judge said while the school violated McMillen’s First Amendment rights, he was not going to force the school to hold the prom, saying it “would only confuse and confound the community” to require the district to step back in a sponsorship role. Judge Glen Davidson did say he will hold a trial at a later date.
ACLU Mississippi legal director Kristy Bennett said her group considers the ruling a victory. And the district’s attorney, Ben Griffith, said his clients were pleased with the judge’s decision.
Steve Crampton with Liberty Counsel concurs. “I think it was the right ruling, and it was asking an awfully lot to try to force the school to sponsor a prom when it had withdrawn its sponsorship,” says the attorney. “All in all I think this is the correct outcome. Frankly, I’ll be surprised if this case ends up going to trial.”
According to the Northeast Mississippi Daily Journal, McMillen’s attorneys do not plan to appeal the ruling, but will seek compensatory damages against the Itawamba Independent School District. They told the Daily Journal that the ruling establishes a national precedent for same-sex couples who want to attend their proms.
Parents of students are planning to hold a private prom in Tupelo, in nearby Lee County. In addition, a Mississippi-based pro-homosexual group announced earlier this week it will hold its annual “second chance” prom in Tupelo as well.