Anglican Watch

Covenant manifesto ruling widely misunderstood; First Amendment issues remain

Covenant Presbyterian

In a recent ruling, a Tennessee Court of Appeals held that Covenant School and related parties have standing to intervene in the release of the shooter’s manifesto, written by Audrey Hale prior to the March 27 in which multiple persons died.

However, many conflate the decision with a victory for the school, the church, and parents with children at the school.

The ruling examined the issue of whether the church and school could intervene, or submit pleadings, in the case. It ruled that these parties could do so, even as the Nashville police try to withhold the documents. The matter is being remanded to the trial court for further litigation.

In other words, the only thing the decision says is that the Covenant families can be heard. Having been heard, the trial court can and should reject efforts to keep the manifesto secret.

While we respect the feelings of the families, the First Amendment also extends to the right to access information.

Moreover, Anglican Watch has credible evidence, from multiple sources, that Grant and Gracie Solomon are referenced in the manifesto. That comes as no surprise, as Hale flagged numerous people in the writings.

As the custodial parent, Dr. Angie Solomon has the right to access this information, as it may be relevant to the death of her son, Grant, and the abuse of his sister, Gracie.

In other words, while we do not support MAGA efforts to derail public schools in the name of parental control, it is clear that Dr. Solomon has the right to information pertaining to the welfare of her children.

And while we support the Covenant parents, the specifics cited in their pleadings are inherently suspect. Consider:

  • Confidential information. The school claims confidential information may be contained in the Manifesto. Given the demonstrated history of pedophilia in the school, including Huckabee speechwriter John Perry—who both ran a so-called safe house and was a founder of the church—this assertion begs the question: Precisely what information is “confidential?” And given the ties between Covenant and Grace Chapel, and to the Lee administration, we are doubly suspicious. Nor should we forget that Hale was a student at the school during the time a pedophile was active.
  • Security details. We’re calling BS on this one. Having experienced such a horrific event, it is a given that Covenant School will make changes to its security. These changes likely will include hiring off-duty police officers, better access control within the building, bullet-resistant glass, and the application of window films that prevent windows from imploding when hit by projectiles. In other words, if indeed the manifesto gives up security details, school officials are both profoundly stupid and incompetent. Thus, the claim doesn’t pass the laugh test.
  •  Fears of copy-cat shooters. Any time there is a shooting, there is a risk of copycats. But withholding the manifesto is no solution — copycat shooters will do their thing, with or without the document. All we can do is harden soft targets and learn about this incident—a first in the long and sordid history of American mass violence.
  • Government control of information and the First Amendment. Given the lack of credibility of the Lee administration, and the increasing prevalence of neo-Nazis in Tennessee, we recognize a distinction between the right of parents not to read Hale’s ugly vitriol, which we support, and the First Amendment issues that are implicated when the courts pick and choose who can read what.

Anglican Watch calls on Tennessee to release the entire manifesto to Dr. Solomon immediately. As things stand, the state’s refusal to provide access interferes with parental rights to access information about their children.

Moreover, given the mendacious conduct of the Gallatin police and others, we are not prepared to accept their assurances that the document doesn’t reference Grant and Gracie Solomon. If our evidence is wrong — and we do not believe that to be the case — then we need to see for ourselves that there is no reference to Grant and Gracie.

Anglican Watch is prepared to litigate to obtain this information, and we encourage Dr. Solomon to file a Tennessee Open Records Act request with the state. If that is declined, we recommend that she file suit in order to obtain these most basic rights—to protect her children and bring closure around Grant’s death.

In closing, we also note the irony of the Covenant position. The school and church fraudulently claimed that Austin Davis was an imminent threat, but made no effort to keep that a secret. So, we’re left asking the question: In order for the record to be sealed, does someone have to actually engage in violence?

That is a facially ludicrous proposition, and to this day Covenant has not had the integrity to own up to its abuse of the legal system to punish Davis by crying wolf.

Covenant, time to man up.

Quit being the playground bullies of the Christian faith and repent of your conduct towards Austin and Daisy Davis.

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