'Viewpoint Discrimination' at Crux of Bulletin Board Case, Says Attorney
Wednesday, February 1, 2006
By: Allie Martin - Agape Press
Religious Viewpoints are not Inferior to Others
(AgapePress) - A federal judge has ruled that the First Amendment rights of an employee may have been violated when supervisors at a Dept. of Defense facility refused to allow the worker to post a flyer on an employee bulletin board.
In the fall of 2004, Gary Lister -- an employee of the Defense Supply Center in Columbus, Ohio, a component of the Department of Defense -- filed a request to put up a flyer showing that donations made to a federal charitable contribution program could go to support anti-Christian causes; specifically, those supporting abortion, sexual promiscuity, the homosexual agenda, and New Age mysticism. But officials told Lister at that time -- and again this month -- he could not post such a notice, even though colleagues were allowed to post flyers on a variety of issues.
Lister, with the assistance of the Alliance Defense Fund, filed a lawsuit claiming his constitutional rights were violated. ADF attorney David LaPlante says a federal judge recently ruled the lawsuit could proceed.
"This case really is about trying to cast religious speech as second-class speech," says LaPlante, who says the Supply Center should know better than to take the position it has. "What's really interesting is this is a federal agency, and they know the First Amendment pretty well -- they should know it the best, actually."
The attorney says the federal agency is engaging in viewpoint discrimination, pure and simple. "You cannot not allow someone to post something on a bulletin board simply because of its content," he explains. "Viewpoint discrimination is the most egregious form of First Amendment discrimination that we have, and in this case the only reason Mr. Lister's speech was prohibited was because it was religious in nature."
And the federal government, says LaPlante, should know that "a religious viewpoint is not inferior to other viewpoints." The case is known as Lister v. Defense Logistics Agency.