A South Carolina teacher has filed a lawsuit against a Catholic school that fired her because she posted on Facebook several statements supporting abortion rights, which goes against the church’s long-held teachings.
Elizabeth Cox, who was a teacher at Bishop England High School in Charleston, claims the school violated her First Amendment rights when it terminated her.
Elizabeth Cox filed suit against the school after Principal Patrick Finnerman sent her a termination letter June 7 regarding a “public Facebook account which identifies you as a teacher at our school and publicly supports abortion…contrary to the mission of the Church and our school and is materially incompatible with your duties as a Catholic School teacher,” WCSC reported.
One of Cox’s posts featured feminist icon Gloria Steinem stating aborting a child is more heavily regulated than buying a gun. Another post declared, “I’ll start believing you’re pro-life when” abortion opponents agree to a list of left-wing policy positions, including “ban guns,” “raise minimum wage,” and “act on the climate crisis.”
The school said her contract included a clause that states “she will at all times publicly speak and act in accordance with the mission and teachings of the Roman Catholic Church.”
“Parents send their children to (Bishop England) expressly because they want a Catholic teaching and upbringing,” Finneran wrote. “Your public expression of disagreement with Catholic values undermines that.”
Cox said she had already accepted the contract for the next school year despite being fired in June. She is seeking financial compensation as well as being reinstated as a teacher at Bishop England.
The former teacher’s suit alleges the posts were protected political speech that didn’t violate her contract. She accuses the school of criminal activity for allegedly violating state law.
Maria Aselage, a spokesperson for Catholic Diocese of Charleston, which oversees the high school, said Wednesday that diocese officials were reviewing the lawsuit.
“We will review and file a response to the lawsuit with the court in due time,” she said.