Oppressive Rhode Island
Bring a gun to a knife fight: Because a Rhode Island school district in Providence failed to respond to a lawsuit accusing it of discriminating against Christians, it has now defaulted and awaits a final judgment against it.
Liberty Counsel filed a lawsuit against the school district on March 10, 2023. The Providence Public School District did not answer the complaint by the court’s deadline. Yesterday, Liberty Counsel filed an application to enter a default against the school district which will allow Liberty Counsel to seek a final judgment against the defendants. Today, the federal court entered the default against the district and its superintendent. Having raised no defense to the lawsuit, the district will be subject to a judgment requiring it to provide equal access to the Good News Clubs. Liberty Counsel will also pursue attorney’s fees and costs against the defendants.
This is a followup on a March 2023 blacklist column. Though the school district had previously welcomed the Good News Clubs, a Christian afterschool program run by the Child Evangelism Fellowship (CEF), to use school facilities for meetings, in 2021 school district officials blacklisted it without explanation, and then stonewalled CEF officials as well as the school’s principal (who wanted the club in his school) for almost two years. Meanwhile, the district was allowing many other clubs, some very leftwing, access to facilities.
In March CEF enlisted the legal non-profit Liberty Counsel and filed a lawsuit [pdf] against the school district as well as its superintendent, Dr. Javier Montanez.
The lawsuit had demanded that CEF be given immediate access to district facilities “equal to access provide to similarly situation nonreligious organizations,” payment of “actual damages in accordance with the evidence at trial,” nominal damages of $100, and payment of any legal costs.
By defaulting, the district has essentially admitted that it was certain to lose and recognized that a quick default would reduce the costs it would have to pay, both to its own lawyers as well as to Liberty Counsel and CEF. CEF is moreover not likely to demand more than that $100 minimum amount, as long as it can get its Good News Club back into the schools quickly.
As I noted in March, this victory against the Providence School District is not likely to change much.
This is not the only case of vindictive blacklisting and oppression by government officials in Rhode Island. Its school system has attacked and slandered parents for asking for school curriculums, blacklisted teachers for questioning the introduction of racist and Marxist anti-American material into history classes, maintained discriminatory racist hiring practices, banned Christian books from its public libraries, and destroyed doctors for not following its insane and irrational COVID mandates.
In 2022 its state legislators proposed imposing exorbitant fines on anyone who refused to get the COVID jabs, essentially making those individuals second class citizens. Meanwhile, one of its senators in Congress, Democrat Sheldon Whitehouse, has repeatedly proposed criminalizing anyone who dared disagree with the left’s agenda.
Rhode Island, established by Roger Williams to create a haven for religious freedom, is now a cesspool of religious and political oppression. This one lawsuit victory removes only a very tiny spoonful from that very large pile of manure.
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