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Hinsdale, Illinois |

Published May 24, 2018

Appeals court decides against Manleys

By Pamela Lannom

A U.S. Seventh Circuit Court of Appeals panel May 10 upheld a lower court’s dismissal of a lawsuit Claudia and Noel Manley filed against Superintendent Bruce Law and Hinsdale High School District 86.
   “Speaking for the entire board of education, we hope that this decision will finally put this claim to rest,” board President Bill Carpenter read from a statement at Monday night’s school board meeting. “For the third time the courts have sided with the board on this dispute. If the Manleys decide to continue to pursue their claim further, either with the U.S. Supreme Court or in state court, we will defend it aggressively.”
   Bruce Davidson, attorney for the Manleys, said he and his clients were disappointed with the ruling. “The court’s analysis quite significantly departs from the rationale of the district court, and from the arguments made in our opponents’ briefing; therefore, we are needing some time to digest it,” he wrote in an email.
   “If you read the opinion in the context of serious constitutional due process violations having been alleged, I think you can see the outlines of a major loophole available for exploitation by unscrupulous local politicians (whose number across the country may well be legion),” he added. “Specifically, it appears a political faction in control of a governmental unit may exploit its official assets to lay waste to political foes.”
   Davidson also noted the case originally was filed in DuPage County Court and he and his clients did not support its removal to federal court.
   “Therefore, while disappointed to have any aspect of the case rejected, we have to be mindful that the great bulk of the case is unaffected by this ruling,” he wrote.
   The case was filed after District 86 officials announced their plans to investigate a March 12, 2015, incident in which Claudia Manley confronted a Hinsdale South student and an adult who were handing out campaign literature at Hinsdale South prior to a school board election. District 86 and Law were named as defendants in the case. Ultimately Judge Edmund Chang of the U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Illinois granted the school district’s motion of summary judgment, dismissing the case in December 2016.
   Judges Frank Easterbrook, Ilana Rovner and David Hamilton affirmed Chang’s ruling.
   At several points in the opinion the judges took issue with the Manleys’ claims that due process or their interests were violated.
   “The Constitution does not guarantee good feelings or regulate manners in political disputes,” wrote Hamilton, who authored the opinion. “Toward the ends of liberty and self-rule, the Constitution’s embrace of free speech and popular elections ensures robust and sometimes even rude public discourse. These side effects of liberty and representative government are well-known.”



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