Later this month, the Supreme Court will consider taking up the case of three California students suing their school district for stopping them from wearing American flag t-shirts on Cinco de Mayo.
Dariano vs. Morgan Hill School District stems from celebrations of the Mexican-American holiday in 2010 at Live Oak High School. A group of students chose to don American flag t-shirts, then was told by the assistant principal to cover up the flag for fear it would spark school fights. The students sued claiming violation of their free speech rights under the First Amendment. So far, all the lower courts including the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have sided with school officials' interest in preventing disruption.
Can safety concerns reasonably limit the First Amendment? Or is it up to school officials to ensure a school is safe enough to accommodate all types of speech? Should the Supreme Court grant a hearing of this case? What types of speech limits would you support a teacher or principal imposing? How much leeway do schools have in preventing gang colors being worn, for instance?
John Eastman, Henry Salvatori Professor of Law & Community Service, Dale E. Fowler School of Law at Chapman University; Founding Director, The Claremont Institute's, Center for Constitutional Jurisprudence; Eastman authored an amicus brief in this case
Lawrence Rosenthal, Professor of Law, Dale E. Fowler School of Law, Chapman University