WebHeader_Grove.png
Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00
0:00
Available On Air Stations
Be one of 603 listeners to make a gift to NHPR and help unlock $10,000 during our Public Radio for the 603 Challenge!
NH News

N.H. DOJ asks court to dismiss lawsuit over 'Freedom from Discrimination' law

stock photo of lady justice

The state of New Hampshire is asking a federal court to dismiss a case challenging a law that prohibits certain kinds of teaching on racism, sexism and other forms of oppression.

Get NHPR's reporting about politics, the pandemic, and other top stories in your inbox — sign up for our newsletter (it's free!) today.

The law, championed by Republican lawmakers and Education Commissioner Frank Edelblut, was included in the state budget that Gov. Chris Sununu signed last summer.

It prohibits public schools from teaching that one group of people is inherently racist, superior, or inferior to people of another group. It also limits the kinds of training about these issues offered by public employers, including schools.

In December, the state’s major teachers’ unions, along with civil rights groups, parents and school staff sued the state over the law. They allege that it has a chilling effect on classroom discussions related to the issues included in the law, violates free speech and is too vague for teachers to know what they’re allowed to teach.

In a response issued on Friday, lawyers for the state argued that the law does not violate speech protected by the First Amendment. It cites a U.S. Supreme Court case on the rights of public employees, noting the Supreme Court’s opinion that ‘the Constitution does not insulate their communications from employer discipline.’

And they say guidance issued by the Department of Justice, the Department of Education, and the Commission for Human Rights is sufficient to help teachers understand what they can teach.

A hearing in the case is likely to come this summer. The case could be dismissed, proceed, or be sent to the state supreme court.

You make NHPR possible.

NHPR is nonprofit and independent. We rely on readers like you to support the local, national, and international coverage on this website. Your support makes this news available to everyone.

Give today. A monthly donation of $5 makes a real difference.