Judge Agrees to Keep Attorney’s ACLU Membership Secret
ALTON, Ill. (AP) _ A judge in a freedom-of-the-press case has barred any mention of a lawyer’s ACLU membership in front of the jury because of the criticism the organization has received during the presidential campaign.
U.S. District Judge William Beatty issued the ruling Monday at the request of lawyers for Brian Lunn, who contends he was punished by his high school in 1987 for attacking the school’s drug policy in the student newspaper.
The trial began this week.
Jay Miller, executive director of the ACLU’s Chicago office, said Thursday that to his knowledge, it was the first case in which the issue had arisen.
Lunn, who is seeking $200,000 in damages from Collinsville High School, is represented by Jane Whicher of the American Civil Liberties Union and Sharon Knapp.
In a pre-trial motion, Knapp asked that the ACLU’s involvement be kept secret, citing Vice President George Bush’s derisive characterization of Michael Dukakis as a ″card-carrying member of the ACLU.″
″Any reference to the ACLU may well be inflammatory and-or prejudicial,″ the motion said.
″At the very least, there is the potential that jurors’ views about the ACLU as an organization may draw their attention from the issues and parties in this case.″
Lunn contends he was suspended from school and removed as editor for writing editorials, publishing cartoons and leading a rally critical of a requirement that students participating in extracurricular activities sign an agreement to refrain from drinking, taking drugs or otherwise breaking the law.
School administrators on Wednesday testified Lunn’s opposition had nothing to do with the punishment.
Lunn is a sophomore at the University of Illinois at Champaign-Urbana.