Taylor v. Roswell Independent School Dist. , No. 11-2242 (10th Cir. 2013)Annotate this Case
Plaintiffs were high school students from Roswell, New Mexico who belonged to a religious group called "Relentless." They sued the Roswell Independent school district and its superintendent seeking declaratory and injunctive relief for allegedly violating their First and Fourteenth Amendment rights by preventing them from distributing 2500 rubber fetus dolls to other students. They also challenged the District's policies requiring preapproval before distributing any non-school-sponsored materials on school grounds. Teachers complained that students' preoccupation with the dolls disrupted classroom instruction: "[w]hile teachers were trying to instruct, students threw dolls and doll heads across classrooms, at one another, and into wastebaskets. Some teachers said the disruptions took eight to 10 minutes each class period, and others said their teaching plans were derailed entirely. An honors freshman English class canceled a scheduled test because students had become engaged in name calling and insults over the topic of abortion. A Roswell security officer described the day as 'a disaster' because of the dolls." A magistrate judge granted summary judgment for the District on all claims and Plaintiffs appealed. Upon review, the Tenth Circuit affirmed the dismissal of Plaintiffs' free speech, free exercise and equal protection claims. The Court also affirmed dismissal of Plaintiffs' facial challenge to the District's preapproval policies.