LAS VEGAS - A high school valedictorian who had the plug pulled on her microphone as she gave an address referring to Jesus Christ has filed a lawsuit against school officials, claiming her rights to religious freedom and free speech were trampled.
Brittany McComb, 18, said she was giving her June 15 commencement address to some 400 graduates of Foothill High School and their family members when the sound was cut.
"God's love is so great that he gave his only son up," she said, before the microphone went dead. She continued without amplification, "...to an excruciating death on a cross so his blood would cover all our shortcomings and provide for us a way to heaven in accepting this grace."
McComb said she was warned that her speech would be cut off if she did not follow an approved script that deleted references to Christ and invitations for others to join the faith. But she memorized the deleted parts and said them anyway.
The lawsuit asks the court to declare that school officials deprived McComb of her rights under the First and Fourteenth Amendments, The Rutherford Institute, the conservative legal group backing the lawsuit, said in a news release.
School District lawyer Bill Hoffman has said previously that the school was following 9th Circuit Court of Appeals rulings that have obligated districts to censor student speeches for proselytizing.
Allen Lichtenstein, lawyer for the American Civil Liberties Union of Nevada, said the school appropriately followed the appeals court's decisions"Proselytizing is improper in school-sponsored speech at valedictorian graduations," he said, adding the ACLU had sued in the past to ensure proselytizing was prevented at school-sponsored events.
See video of the speech at: http://www.rutherford.org/movieclips/mccomb_lrg.mov