EDITOR'S NOTE: This column was published Sept. 2 at The Cool Justice Report, http://cooljustice.blogspot.com
NEW HAVEN -- Naked now are Mark Kravitz and the craven, tyrannical administrators of the Regional District 10 school system.
Federal judge Kravitz -- a disciple of William Rehnquist and close pal of Rehnquist successor, the current chief justice of the U.S. Supreme Court, John Roberts -- put on a show of a hearing in the Doninger civil rights case.
That's right. It was a show. Because the decision was a foregone conclusion, this was not a real or legitimate hearing.
For what he did, Kravitz didn't really need a hearing. He could have simply denied the request. There was some other purpose beyond the administration of justice.
Several days of testimony for a preliminary injunction began Aug. 22 and ended Aug. 31. Kravitz made up his mind long before testimony concluded. The only question is how long. His decision was issued 45 minutes after closing arguments and testimony from the school superintendent.
The injunction, if granted, would have affirmed that -- despite the determination of administrators to steal an election -- Avery Doninger won a plurality by write-in vote for Class of 2008 Secretary at Lewis Mills High School in Burlington. Avery Doninger was willing to share duties as Co-Secretary with the student who won the sham election. Kravitz couldn't even get that right in his post-dated decision. The injunction, if granted, also would have asserted free speech rights and protected all Connecticut students from the long arm of school administrators.
Lewis Mills administrators banned Avery Doninger from running for office after she and others - at the suggestion of the student council adviser - wrote to taxpayers seeking support to secure a venue for a battle of the bands known as Jamfest. Taxpayers responded. Unfortunately for Avery and the liberty of all Connecticut students, answering to taxpayers in this school district is considered a disruption near the level of a full-scale riot.
"Mrs. Schwartz wasn't happy with all the phone calls and was very annoyed," the principal told Avery Doninger.
Kravitz wrote his Aug. 31 decision before testimony by School Superintendent Paula Schwartz. Schwartz admitted Aug. 31 that she had her 36-year-old son troll the Internet to find a posting by Avery Doninger - made from home - on Doninger's personal blog April 24. Schwartz The Younger made the discovery May 7 and gave it to his mother, who forwarded the booty to Lewis Mills Principal Karissa Niehoff.
In the blog, Avery Doninger noted that Jamfest had been cancelled. She also referred to central office administrators as douche bags. As this case continues, more and more people have come to realize this is an affront to all douche bags.
In addition, another student who called the superintendent "a dirty whore" on the blog received a citizenship award and was not punished. Schwartz and her son were on the hunt for Avery Doninger and no one else.
Kravitz and media outlets including The Hartford Courant incorrectly refer to the term douche bag as vulgar. It is not. They should get a dictionary and look up that word and scumbag. In common parlance, the term douche bag means "contemptible person." As noted in testimony, the term has entered the vernacular of tv shows, cops, teenagers and others. It means "jerk," "idiot," or "someone you don't like." Kravitz joked about it from the bench, calling Comedy Central's Jon Stewart "a model of civil discourse."
To his credit, Kravitz indicated that even polite questioning of authorities could result in questions and complaints from taxpayers. He also chastised the principal for confiscating free-speech t-shirts, saying, "I hope Miss Niehoff learned something from this."
Nevertheless, because of Kratitz's ruling, it's open season now on all student blogs and probably faculty blogs, too. Schwartz's son and his fellow trollers / administration stooges are likely to have a busy fall. What happened to the right for redress of grievances?
Kravitz's ruling imposes a significant and scary restriction on First Amendment rights. It should be overturned summarily by the Second Circuit Court of Appeals.
With the roll of the dice, it all depends on who hears the appeal. Most circuit courts have been stocked with Reagan, Bush I and Bush II appointees, with little improvement by Clinton during the interim years. Nevertheless, Kravitz's decision is far outside the mainstream of any Second Circuit ruling.
The most important legal travesty: Kravitz failed to protect Avery Doninger and other similarly situated persons from retaliation for her speech. Kravitz stretched the very limited exceptions to First Amendment protections to an unacceptable range. He has expanded the reach of government to repress criticism.
Why, then, did Kravitz take testimony from 10 witnesses? Was there something he needed to advance his political career? Is Kravitz running for The Big Show?
Let's be absolutely clear on this. Whenever you hear a judge, a bishop or a school superintendent say, "I am not a politician," you can be certain they are lying.
Kravitz now has a record of sorts in a case with national implications. It's the kind of record that might appear - superficially, anyhow - to be reasoned, fair and comprehensive. Look into the record just a little bit, however, and problems start to emerge. Still, these problems will not matter if a far-right conservative Republican is president whenever Kravitz might want to leap up a notch or even to The Big Show with his pal, Roberts. Kravitz will have established his Ruling Class White Shoe Pedigree in a big case. Wherever we have Government Of The Government Class, By The Government Class and For The Government Class - rather than Of The People, By The People and For The People, Kravitz will fit in just fine. (Parenthetically, of course there are many conservatives who believe in the Bill of Rights. But, they're not running the government.)
Whenever there is a choice between authority and liberty, The Ruling Class will almost always choose authority -- by whatever means necessary.
In sentence number five, page one of 34, Kravitz makes a false statement - an out-and-out lie.
Kravitz writes: "Just about everyone but Avery agrees that the manner in which Avery expressed her frustration was offensive and inappropriate."
Throughout the hearing, Kravitz would note certain ironies. Probably none were bigger than this: Kravitz heard testimony by Avery Doninger that she regretted her choice of words when calling central office administrators douche bags; he also viewed Avery Doninger's written apology to Schwartz for her choice of words, an apology Schwartz never acknowledged until Friday when questioned under oath.
Kravitz also knew from testimony that the principal told Avery Doninger Schwartz was "pissed off." Kravitz knew Avery Doninger took this to mean Schwartz did not like certain duties of her job. Kravitz knew this because Avery Doninger told him, as other students did, in substance and words: "I think it's part of her job. Taxpayers should be contacting her and voicing their concerns."
Yet, incredibly, in sentence six, page one of 34, Kravitz writes that Avery's blog post called on students and parents to write the school superintendent to "piss her off more." Kravitz's compound manipulation of the record lacks crucial context, is misleading at best and at worst false information.
In yet another irony, just as Kravitz post-dated his decision, Schwartz and colleagues back-dated an erroneous disciplinary entry in Avery Doninger's file.
Kravitz swallows hard and deep in his decision, accepting ludicrous claims by Schwartz and colleagues that the erroneous, back-dated disciplinary file was placed in Avery Doninger's permanent guidance file as a courtesy to Lauren Doninger, Avery's mother.
The guidance file contains information that is given to colleges.
"What crap!" a parent of a Lewis Mills student said upon reading the decision. "They were doing something for [Lauren Doninger's] benefit? DOES NOT HAPPEN."
Lauren Doninger had suspected criminal tampering with her daughter's file and had made an appointment to view it. The erroneous, back-dated disciplinary file was removed only after the Doninger's attorney, Jon Schoenhorn of Hartford, subpoenaed a clerk who complained about the tampering.
The ironies continue to abound.
Kravitz, in his decision, characterizes Niehoff's testimony as truthful when the principal denied telling Avery Doninger that Jamfest was cancelled.
Notably, Neihoff grabbed Doninger's arm, dragged her by the elbow and whisked her to the office for a one-on-one meeting.
Here's one for you, judge: Just about everyone but you believed Niehoff was lying. Of course, we can't be shocked that when the choice is liberty or authority, you will choose authority.
As Avery Doninger testified, Niehoff told her: "I don't know what's going on here. I just talked to Mrs. Schwartz and she's very upset. Jamfest is cancelled."
Questioned further, Avery Doninger quoted Niehoff as saying: "As of now, Jamfest is cancelled."
These and many other items provide fertile ground for the Second Circuit to till.
Also of note in the Kravitz decision: "There are no villains in this case … Nor are Ms. Niehoff and Ms. Schwartz tyrants bent on curbing the constitutional rights of all who criticize them."
Yeah, right. There are no villains in this case - only douche bags.
Avery Doninger returns to school Sept. 4. The board of education and a federal judge failed to protect her and others. Who will stand up now for liberty and to protect students from retribution?
Students and faculty must be vigilant to protect themselves and peers from this illegitimate, occupying authority. Whatever happens, Kravitz has sown the seeds of disruption by wrongly empowering the villains and tyrants.
Of course, the villains and tyrants and this miscreant federal judge now stand naked before us. They have exposed themselves for what they are. Now it is up to the good citizens of Harwinton and Burlington and indeed, the entire state of Connecticut, to protect their children.
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