Court: School Was Right to Ban U.S. Flag Shirts to Ensure Campus Safety
This seems weird until you recognize that there’s a history of interracial violence at this particular school on Cinco De Mayo. When flags become used as provocation and as gang colors then school officials do have wide leeway to ban them according to the court. Schools are granted wider exceptions and are a special case when it comes to semi public spaces, but many will ignore that.
By Michelle Arrouas @MichelleArrouas
A high school in Northern California wasn’t doing anything wrong when it asked students to turn their T-shirts with American flags inside out on Cinco de Mayo, the Mexican heritage celebration, the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruled Thursday.
The court said that the school officials’ concern that star spangled T-shirts might provoke racial violence outweighed the student’s rights to freedom of expression, and that it was correct of the officials to prioritize campus safety.
“Our role is not to second-guess the decision to have a Cinco de Mayo celebration or the precautions put in place to avoid violence,” Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote for the panel. The past events “made it reasonable for school officials to proceed as though the threat of a potentially violent disturbance was real,” she wrote.
The case garnered national attention as many expressed outrage that students were barred from wearing patriotic clothing. The Ann Arbor, Mich.-based American Freedom Law Center, a politically conservative legal aid foundation, and other similar organizations took up the students’ case and sued the high school and the school district.