Thursday, April 02, 2015


Supreme Court Refuses to Hear First Amendment Case Challenging School Ban on American Flag Shirts

In an order issued today without comment or explanation, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear a high-profile First Amendment case challenging a California school district which banned several students from wearing shirts bearing the image of the American flag.

The case originated in 2010 when the Morgan Hill Unified School District forbid several students from wearing American flag-themed shirts on Cinco de Mayo over fears that their attire would spark racial violence between white and Hispanic students. School officials told the offending students to either turn their shirts inside out or go home. The students went home and subsequently filed a legal challenge alleging that the First Amendment had been violated because the school allowed a "heckler's veto" to trump their rights to peaceful free expression.

In February 2014, those students lost at the U.S. Court of Appeals for the 9th Circuit. "School officials anticipated violence or substantial disruption of or material interference with school activities, and their response was tailored to the circumstances," the 9th Circuit declared in Dariano v. Morgan Hill Unified School District. "As a consequence, we conclude that school officials did not violate the students' rights to freedom of expression."

Notably, the 9th Circuit claimed that its ruling should be distinguished from the U.S. Supreme Court's landmark 1976 precedent in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, in which the Court invalidated the suspension of three public school students for wearing black armbands in silent protest of the Vietnam War. According to the Supreme Court in Tinker, while school officials may have based their actions "upon their fear of a disturbance from the wearing of the armband... in our system, undifferentiated fears or apprehension of disturbance is not enough to overcome the right to freedom of expression."

To say the least, the 9th Circuit's judgement in Dariano would appear to be in conflict with the central free speech holding of Tinker. In fact, none other than Mary Beth Tinker and John Tinker, two of the original plaintiffs from that 1976 case, filed a friend of the court brief supporting the students against the Morgan Hill Unified School District in their appeal to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"If students learn that threatening speakers is an effective way to suppress speech," the Tinkers told SCOTUS, "this will produce more threats, and more suppression of a wide range of other speech. And beyond this, even peaceful students will learn that free speech must yield whenever its opponents are willing to threaten violence—a message antithetical to all things this Court has tried to convey about the First Amendment."

Yet despite these strong free speech arguments, and despite the 9th Circuit's questionable adherence to First Amendment precedent, the U.S. Supreme Court declined to hear the case. Today's order leaves the 9th Circuit's decision in place.

SOURCE

11 comments:

Anonymous said...

What has to happen now is that students have to raise a ruckus and disrupt the school on days when other people where flags on their shirts.

Shame on the 9th Circuit and the SCOTUS for not realizing that this case was not about the wearing of flags selective censorship by the government which has long held to be unConstitutional.

Anonymous said...

The Ninth Circuit Court has a long history of being wrong !

stinky said...

The suppression of free speech was for convenience, to avoid "disruption."

But they're too cowardly to even admit it.

(And I suppose we don;t even need to ask why an American flag would interfere with a Mexican celebration of a victory over the French, eh?)

President Not Sure said...

Pretty soon it will be law for all white people to just hand out large sums of cash to random minorities on the street, lest they resort to violence and start killing people.. We cant have that..

Bird of Paradise said...

Soon they'll replace the 4th of July with Cino Demayo or Earth Day

Anonymous said...

The people wearing the shirts are not even the ones expected to cause "disruption". They were expecting others who were offended by our flag to cause the problem. How about dealing with the actual"disrupters"? Of course, the educrats are ashmed of America anyway so none of this is surprising.

Anonymous said...

Tell the Mexicans to assimilate or emigrate back home. Time to enforce that there is only one national language and that is English. Want to end up like Canada and split the country with the Frog's?

Anthony Billings said...

This year on Cinco de Mayo there should be hundreds of U.S. flags on display throughout the school, every school.

Flu-Bird said...

Since when did the notorius 9th circutt court slip some of its robed monkeys into the supreum court? perhaps its Eric the Dread?

Anonymous said...

Do the schools fly the US flag on cinco de mayo? If they do, they have no right to limit the students.

slinky said...

I like Cinco de Mayo. Margaritas and nachos, baby. Get drunk and don't give a funk.