Appeal filed in case of Indiana high school that banned pro-life club

A student has appealed a district court’s ruling in favor of the Indiana high school that revoked her pro-life club’s recognition for a flyer thought to be too “political.”


A student has appealed a district court’s ruling in favor of the Indiana high school that revoked her pro-life club’s recognition for a flyer thought to be too “political.”

The advertisement for the Noblesville High School (NHS) club included photos of students outside the U.S. Supreme Court holding signs that read, “I Reject Abortion,” “Defund Planned Parenthood” and “I Am the Pro-Life Generation.

School officials told the student organizer she could not post the flyer because the sign referring to “Planned Parenthood” was “political,” said a press statement from Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), which is representing the student, referred to as “E.D.,” in the appeal.

“Taking a stand for an issue you care about isn’t always easy, especially for a high school student,” ADF said. “Sometimes, your peers will make fun of you, call you names, or say things about you that are untrue.” 

During the summer of 2021, when E.D. was preparing to enter her freshman year, she sought to lead a chapter of Students for Life at NHS in order to “raise awareness and generate discussion about the abortion issue while also doing something about it through volunteering.” 

“E.D. followed all the requirements to officially start NSFL [Noblesville Students for Life] as a student interest group, including meeting with her principal ahead of time to discuss the club,” ADF noted.  

The principal, Dr. Craig McCaffrey, initially approved the club, and “at the school’s fall activities fair shortly thereafter, more than 30 students signed up for NSFL.” 

NSFL joined other clubs at NHS, including the Conservation Club, Campus Crusade for Christ, Fellowship of Christian Athletes, Gender and Sexuality Alliance, Key Club, Leo Club, Noblesville Young Democrats, Young Republicans, and Police Explorers, the statement explained. 

Nevertheless, school staff demanded that E.D. post the flyers without the pictures, insisting that the flyer could not be “political.”  

“The same day the student met with those administrators, the principal derecognized the group,” ADF reported. 

In December 2021, Charitable Allies filed a lawsuit on behalf of E.D. in federal court against the Noblesville school district for violating her First and 14th Amendment rights. 

In March of this year, however, the federal district court sided with the school district, and Charitable Allies appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 7th Circuit. 

“The district court’s decision discourages parents and weakens First Amendment protections by insisting that a temporary loss of rights is nothing to worry about,” Kristan Hawkins, president of Students for Life of America, said in a statement. 

Last month, ADF joined with Charitable Allies in E.D. v. Noblesville School District to represent E.D. and her student group in their appeal. 

ADF Legal Counsel Mathew Hoffmann said students don’t relinquish their First Amendment right to free speech when they enter a school building: 

“This isn’t just about a flyer; this is about a school telling a high-schooler that she can’t publicly express messages that are important to her. School officials punished the student because she sought to use flyers that expressed pro-life messages.  

“While other student groups at the school are allowed to express messages that are important to them, this club was specifically punished because of the messages on the flyers.” 

Zac Kester, CEO and managing attorney of Charitable Allies, said his group is “eager to protect the rights of students whose views may differ from some preferred viewpoint.”