A federal appeals court Tuesday rejected the claim of a San Diego-area mathematics teacher that his 1st Amendment rights were violated when the school’s principal ordered him to take down classroom banners that referred to God.

A panel of the U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said the principal and school board had the same authority as any employer to set limits on the speech of employees.

Bradley Johnson, a mathematics teacher in the Poway Unified School District, had displayed banners in his classrooms for two decades that he saw as celebrating the religious heritage of America, including “In God We Trust,” “God Bless America,” and “God Shed His Grace on Thee.”

But after he transferred to a new school, a new principal in 2007 ordered the banners taken down.

The size of the banners — some 7 feet wide by 2 feet high — made them “a promotion of a particular viewpoint,” Principal Dawn Kastner is quoted as saying in the court’s 40-page opinion.

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