Prom provocateur Reuben Lack soldiers on

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Nevermind that 12-page ruling that says his case doesn’t show “a substantial likelihood of success,” metro Atlanta prom equality advocate Reuben Lack and his attorney will soldier on.

James Radford expressed disappointment in Friday’s decision from U.S. District Judge Richard Story but wants to make sure you know that the case isn’t over. Despite what the media says. Or the judge. Nevermind that the prom is April 21. Or that the school year ends May 18.

Today’s order is, undeniably, disappointing. However, there have been a number of inaccurate statements made by news outlets and others, to the effect that the case has been “dismissed,” that the case is “over,” that the court found that the case “lacks merit,” and so on. The case has not been dismissed and is, in fact, far from over. We will soon have the opportunity to depose and cross-examine witnesses, which can have a dramatic effect on the credibility of their testimony. Much is yet to be accomplished.

Radford’s full statement, which he posted on Friday:

We received a tough order today in the Reuben Lack case. Judge Story (who has been extremely gracious and courteous to both sides of this case) denied our motion for a Temporary Restraining Order (TRO), which was designed to restore Reuben immediately to his office of Student Body President. TRO’s are inherently tough to win. The Supreme Court has stated that TRO’s are an “extraordinary and drastic remedy,” granted only in the most clear-cut of cases. Because it is so early in the proceedings, there has been little development of the evidence. None of the witnesses have been subject to cross-examination, and the court is basically in the position of having to accept the affidavits and filings of the parties at face value.

Today’s order is, undeniably, disappointing. However, there have been a number of inaccurate statements made by news outlets and others, to the effect that the case has been “dismissed,” that the case is “over,” that the court found that the case “lacks merit,” and so on. The case has not been dismissed and is, in fact, far from over. We will soon have the opportunity to depose and cross-examine witnesses, which can have a dramatic effect on the credibility of their testimony. Much is yet to be accomplished.

My client and I will have to make difficult choices about the next steps to take. The school year is coming to a close, and with each day that passes, the ability to return to the position of president diminishes. However, we are heartened by many elements of today’s order. Judge Story noted specifically that Reuben had engaged in constitutionally protected expression, and that his expression “was a motivating factor in Defendants’ decision to remove him as President.” This means a lot. Despite the protestations of so many, it is established that Reuben’s exercise of rights under the First Amendment were significant motivating factors in removal.

And the court, while denying the relief we requested, included this caveat:

This is not to say that the Court does not value Plaintiff’s zeal to change policy, or that the Court does not recognize the importance of championing the cause of inclusion for all students in school activities. Plaintiff clearly accomplished much in the way of policy changes–he helped remove the cafeteria’s “utensil tax,” got microwaves for the cafeteria, was assisting in getting bike racks installed at the school, and was concerned that all students felt included at Prom.

This sort of statement means a lot. And this whole process has been extremely important for my client, and for the never-ending American debate on freedom of speech, individual liberty, and equal rights. I look forward to the next chapter.

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