08 April 2010

The law of unintended consequences.

Here is Judge Glen Davidson's opinion denying Constance McMillen's petition that the Court issue an injunction (temporary relief pending the outcome of an upcoming trial) requiring her high school administration to reassert its role in coordinating her class prom.
Miss McMillen is able to jump 3 of the 4 required hurdles: (1) she establishes a substantial likelihood she will win her upcoming First Amendment case; (2) she establishes there's a substantial threat she will suffer irreparable injury if her injunction is denied; and (3) she establishes her injury outweighs any damage the injunction might cause the school.
Then Judge Davidson writes:
However, the Court is of the opinion that its failure to grant an injunction in this instance does not disserve the public interest. Defendants testified that a parent sponsored prom which is open to all IAHS students has been planned and is scheduled for April 2, 2010. Though the details of the "private" prom are unknown to the Court, Defendants have made representations, upon which this Court relies, that all IAHS students, including the Plaintiff, are welcome and encouraged to attend. The Court finds that requiring Defendants to step-back into a sponsorship role at this late date would only confuse and confound the community on the issue. Parents have taken the initiative to plan and pay for a "private" prom for the Juniors and Seniors of IAHS and to now require Defendants to host one as it had originally planned would defeat the purpose and efforts of those individuals. [emphasis mine]
Thus Judge Davidson ultimately denied Miss McMillen's injunction on two basis: (1) the school district testified that Miss McMillen would be welcome at the "private" prom, and (2) the court was unwilling to force the district to uncancel its official prom because that would undermine all the work that had gone into putting on the inclusive "private" prom.
The "private" prom discussed in the ruling of course turned out to be the potemkin prom. It was "inclusive" only insofar as it worked as the dumping ground for a handful of unpopular and undesirable students. Their classmates — with the assistance of some district employees — enjoyed themselves at yet a third prom, whose existence didn't cause them to be "confused and confounded." This third prom was, of course, closed to Miss McMillen — which was its purpose.
Private segregated proms are a longstanding Deep South tradition, so Miss McMillen had a sense of what everyone was up to, and said in early March she knew she'd be excluded from her class prom if it was privatized.
The only person who apparently couldn't crack that code is Judge Davidson.
By not issuing the injunction against the school, Judge Davidson sided with the district, then the district repaid the foolish judge by making a mockery of his decision.
The actual case that gave rise to the injunctive hearing remains active, and now the school has invited contempt of court citations and a punitive damages claim.
Kudos!

1 chimed in:

GB, RN said...

The South. So back-asswards that they need to build a huge retaining wall around it, and only those who pass IQ tests are allowed out.

I wasn't surprised to hear about the third prom. It sounds like something rednecks would do so they "don't catch teh gay". ~eyeroll~

I feel really bad for Constance, in addition to all the students who were excluded just for not conforming to what those rednecks would deem "normal".

Some people, they make me ashamed to be American.