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Student wins battle over immigration essay

The U.S. Supreme Court has let stand a lower court ruling in favor of a Novato high school student who sued when school administrators confiscated student newspapers containing an essay he wrote on immigration in 2001. The California Supreme Court also rejected the school district’s appeal last September. It was not immediately clear what the district spent pursuing appeals to both the nation’s and the state’s highest courts, the Marin IJ reported.

The student, Andrew Smith, graduated and served in the U.S. Marine Corps. He now works in the construction industry and is in a reserve unit. His essay, which urged stronger enforcement of immigration laws, prompted school officials to seized copies of the Novato High School Buzz newspaper. Administrators also delayed publication of another article and apologized to parents and students. Smith was represented by the Pacific Legal Foundation, whose Paul Beard II told the IJ that the Novato district filed a petition with the federal court even though the lower court ruling was based entirely on state law. The district asserted the federal court should weigh in anyway.

“Their petition to the U.S. Supreme Court was so frivolous we decided not to even respond,” Beard said. “The (lower court) decision was based entirely on California law and the unique protection California law provides to students.”

“The California decision is published and binding across the state right now,” Beard told the IJ. “It makes California, probably, the most protective state for students – the federal is a much lower standard.”

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