Originally created 04/27/04

Across the Southeast



Judge declines to throw out lawsuit

NORFOLK, VA. - A federal judge declined Monday to toss out a lawsuit by a public school student who was not allowed to perform a song with religious references at her commencement.

The lawsuit's main goal is to establish a legal precedent for school-sponsored events by clarifying criteria "so schools will know you can't censor private individual speech," an attorney for the student said.

The Rutherford Institute, a Charlottesville-based civil liberties group, sued on Anna Ashby's behalf last summer, contending school officials violated her First Amendment rights.

Ms. Ashby, who graduated from Windsor High School in June, is seeking damages of $1, plus attorney's fees.

Governor signs bill for blues commission

JACKSON, MISS. - Gov. Haley Barbour donned dark shades to sign a bill creating the Mississippi Blues Commission, a group he says will spur economic development in one of the nation's poorest regions.

Mr. Barbour was joined in the Capitol rotunda by Viking Range CEO Fred Carl Jr., the commission's chairman; bluesman Eddie Cusic, and Mary Hurt Wright, the granddaughter of blues artist Mississippi John Hurt.

"The Delta has the blues and the opportunity to take something of which we are very proud, and rightly so, and turn it into genuine economic development," said Mr. Barbour, a native of Yazoo County, in the heart of the blues belt.

The commission's charge is to develop a plan to preserve and promote Mississippi's blues heritage, including establishing a blues trail and marketing the Delta as a tourist destination.

Gay student fights to use campaign posters

RALEIGH, N.C. - An out-of-the-closet student is fighting to campaign in his high school election with posters that read: "Gay Guys Know Everything!" and "Queer Guy for Hunt High."

Seventeen-year-old Jarred Gamwell has enlisted the help of the American Civil Liberties Union in his effort to reverse a principal's decision last week that stripped the posters from the halls of Wilson's James B. Hunt Jr. High School.

School officials say they have every right to control and censor candidates for student body president.

Students vote Wednesday.