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Pro-Life High School Students Sue for Return of Confiscated 'Rubber Babies'

And you thought nothing interesting would ever happen again in Roswell, N.M., after the aliens landed.

OnPoint News reported yesterday on a complaint (.pdf) filed in federal district court by a group of students at two Roswell high schools who were disciplined for handing out rubber fetuses with attached bible verses on school grounds earlier this year. School administrators not only shut down the distribution, but confiscated the fetuses, and apparently have yet to return them.

The complaint, filed by lawyers at Liberty Counsel, hews pretty tightly to the pro-life line; it uses the word "fetus" only when directly quoting from the statements or e-mails of the defendants. Otherwise, the objects at issue are referred to as "rubber babies ... the actual size and weight of a developing unborn child at twelve (12) weeks’ gestation," which, somehow, sounds even creepier than "rubber fetus."

It's an interesting read, as it goes through the history of all of the other items the students -- members of a group called "Relentless in Roswell" (yes, they have a Facebook page) -- allegedly had distributed on school grounds without incident: chicken salad, hot chocolate, candy canes (with a religious message attached) and "affirmation rocks." Only when the kids ramped up to the fetuses did administrators step in, allegedly expressly because some people were offended. As noted by Matt Reynolds at OnPoint, however, banning speech, even in a school setting, just because it's offensive, has not gone over well with the Supreme Court.

In addition to the constitutional claims you might expect here -- for violations of the students' rights to free speech, free exercise of religion and equal protection -- the complaint contains a Fourth Amendment claim based on an illegal seizure of the "rubber babies."

Thankfully, though the complaint indicates that a photo of one of the "rubber babies" is attached as an exhibit, it does not seem to be attached to the version posted by OnPoint. Thus, the image above will have to do.

Posted by Eric Lipman on July 15, 2010 at 11:22 AM | Permalink | Comments (3)


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