the last dance

Constance McMillen’s School Violated Her Rights, But Can’t Be Forced to Hold a Prom

A federal judge just ruled the Itawamba County school district in Mississippi cannot be legally required to hold a prom for its students — though Judge Glen H. Davidson did say the school violated Constance McMillen’s constitutional rights.

Interestingly, both sides are celebrating.

U.S. District Judge Glen H. Davidson denied the ACLU’s request for a preliminary injunction. He said he’ll still hold a trial, but he did not set a date, meaning any ruling would likely come too late to have the prom when it was originally scheduled. Davidson did say in his order that the district had violated McMillen’s constitutional rights by denying her request to bring her girlfriend and wear a tuxedo.

“We consider this a victory,” said ACLU Mississippi legal director Kristy Bennett.

But Davidson said a private prom parents are now planning will serve the same purpose as the school prom. He wrote in his ruling that “requiring defendants to step back into a sponsorship role at this late date would only confuse and confound the community on the issue.”

Ben Griffith, the school district’s attorney, said his clients were pleased with the ruling. “What we’re looking at now is the fact that the case is still on the docket for a trial on the merits,” Griffith said.