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Pushback: PA school board settles lawsuit and will pay $300K for censoring critics

Reaffirmed at Pennsbury
Reaffirmed at Pennsbury, despite its school board’s hostility

Bring a gun to a knife fight: The Pennsbury school board in Pennsylvania has now been forced to pay $300K and fire its attorney, Peter Amuso, because that attorney silenced three different individuals during the open comments period at a school board meeting, simply because they were criticizing the board’s policies.

More details here. This quote describes how Amuso shouted down one of those speakers, Doug Marshall:

Marshall was interrupted by solicitor Peter Amuso for referring to the equity policy as the “equity and critical race theory policy,” which, Marshall is told, isn’t what it is officially called. … Marshall is later asked to stop speaking for sharing “irrelevant” information and violating Pennsbury School Board Policy 903, which states that members of the public can be asked to stop speaking for “lengthy, personally directed, abusive, obscene or irrelevant” comments.

“You’re now being disruptive and disorderly, you’re done,” Amuso can be heard telling Marshall as he objects to being cut off.

The board’s defeat in court was certain because a federal court has already ruled [pdf] that the board’s actions were unconstitutional.

Those policies, modeled after a template recommended by the Pennsylvania School Boards Association (PSBA), allowed the meeting’s presiding officer to stop speakers whose comments were deemed “personally directed,” “personal attacks,” “abusive,” “verbally abusive,” “irrelevant,” “disruptive,” “offensive,” “inappropriate,” or “otherwise inappropriate.” After an evidentiary hearing in Philadelphia, Judge Gene Pratter found ample evidence that the Board selectively enforced the rules to stifle criticism of its actions and members.

…After the injunction was issued, Pennsbury abolished one of the two policies challenged in the lawsuit and rewrote the other to comply with the First Amendment. The court also ruled against a board requirement that speakers publicly announce their home address before beginning their remarks.

Most of the money in the settlement went to pay legal fees, though each of the three silenced speakers received $17.91, “a symbolic payment acknowledging that the plaintiffs’ rights were violated. The amount was chosen because 1791 was the year the First Amendment was ratified.”

It is somewhat disgusting — but important — to watch the video of those three individuals being silenced. You can watch it here. In all three cases, Pennsbury’s assistant solicitor Amuso shouts down the speaker, screaming repeatedly, “You’re done!”

Well, it appears that Amuso is done. The court settlement also required Pennsbury to fire Amuso as the board’s lawyer. Unfortunately, this guy is probably still out there, practicing law badly. He should have been disbarred.

The school board meeting where these individuals were censored occurred in May 2021. At the next school board meeting, Simon Campbell, a former school board member, responded with bluntness to the censorship in a way that became quite viral. You might remember it. If not, watch. Campbell cites case law and also refuses to shut up when the board once again tries to silence him. His response was right on the money, and predicted the school board’s certain loss in court.

As one commenter on YouTube quite correctly noted, “Don’t admire this guy, be like this guy. America needs people like him to stand up to authoritarianism.” And that it takes a British immigrant to the U.S. to explain fundamental Constitutional law to Americans is quite shameful.

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  • I loves me some Simon Campbell! What a great comment by him. This is the level at which things need to be done. The problem, though, with the bottom-up clean-up of our institutions is that the top end may try to enforce their tyrannical views and quash us before reform can be done.

  • Catch Thirty-Thr33

    Really, all of these government institutions need to be treated to debate, UK style. The school board meetings and so forth should have the look and feel of Prime Minister’s Questions in the House of Commons. Our elected officials deserve it.

  • wayne

    “The first thing we do, let’s kill all the lawyers.”
    Dick the Butcher
    Henry VI,
    Part II, act IV, Scene II, Line 73.

  • wayne

    The Beatles
    “Piggies” (Anthology 3 Version)

  • Col Beausabre

    School Boards and such accumulate petty tyrants. The type you hated in high school.

  • Col Beausabre: Be aware that the Democratic Party has been treating these petty tyrants at school boards as their minor league, ripe for promotion into the majors.

  • pzatchok

    Petty tyrants always attempt to take power no matter how little or how petty. Then they attempt to act bigger than their hats or chairs would accommodate.

  • James Street

    “or of the right of the people peaceably to assemble”

    Chris Cuomo defends violent Democrat riots by asking where it says protests must be peaceful.

    Ramen guy tells him. (15 second video):

  • Edward

    That First Amendment sure gets in the way of the Democrats! They think it should be OK to burn down cities for their own cause, violence is OK when they do it, but heaven forbid that anyone be blunt with or critical of a Democratic Party-favored government official or to call that official a name that suggests fascism or tyranny. Such names hit too close to home.

  • Dean Hollister

    After watching the 3 videos, I am beyond happy this school board was sued and their fascist lawyer fired.

  • Robert "Bob" Sprowl

    The speakers should have gotten $1791, if not $179,100, each.

  • Cotour

    Related: Stupid.


    Now this is one very lucky man. (Could you imagine being in a relationship with this woman?)

    He apparently had a date with a woman, and things did not work out, and she decides that she has been emotionally injured, and she is suing him for that emotional distress, for $10,000.00! And I guarantee you that she is a part of the Woke / Progressive BS culture that is emerging in America.

    This is an AOC type logic and inability to understand situation where a ridiculous argument is made, and it is brought to court and the judge himself is frustrated with the inability for the plaintiff get out of her intellectualized fantasy reality and connect to actual reality.

    She does not actually understand what the word “Perjury” means, and she argues with the judge about it. All is fair in love and war.

    This is the kind of justice and law that the “Woke” and the “Progressive” (D) among us are telling everyone is the way that America needs to be “Fundamentally” reformed into. Stupid X’s Stupid = Woke “Equality” and
    Progressive “Justice”.

    This is the stupidest story of the day for me. You see yourself as being progressive? You are woke? You are a Democrat? That is the only place that stupid crap like this comes from.

  • wayne

    finally had a chance to watch all the videos and read everything.

    Q: can someone confirm or deny this is the same lawyer-guy?

  • Jay

    Yes, you found him. If you read the bio about him, he is listed as the Assistant Solicitor of the Pennsbury School District, along with some other school districts. I hope those other school districts see this and consider firing him for his conduct on this board.

  • Edward observed: ” . . . or to call that official a name that suggests fascism or tyranny. Such names hit too close to home.”

    Such names are their home address.

    Mr. Campbell gives a text-book example of the ‘Be polite: don’t be nice’ school of resistance. Too many folks still think the opposition can be mollified. That ship sailed so long ago, you’d need the Hubble Space Telescope to see it.

  • wayne

    thank you.
    I bet that law firm rakes in a thick percentage from all the ‘government work’ it (allegedly) performs.

    “Such names are their home address.”

    That sings!

  • Wayne: Thanks, but some credit to Edward.

  • A little forum-inspired Double Dutch (punctuation for clarity)

    Tyranny; Oppression; Can’t Do Spit

    ‘Here To Help you’ Is Control

    Tyranny; Oppression; Can’t Do Spit

    Obedience Obedience Is The Goal

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