Another cog in the wheel known as the Vast Right Wing Conspiracy to combat the Extreme Left-Wing Media.

Wednesday, October 03, 2007

Texas Student Booted From School for Wearing John Edwards T-Shirt

There are a couple problems with this article "Texas Student Booted From School for Wearing John Edwards T-Shirt." First, the headline does not match the facts. The student was booted from school for wearing a political shirt period. Whether the child was supporting Edwards, Clinton, Giuliani or a conservative candidate was not the problem the issue was any shirt with a political theme is prohibited as potentially disruptive to the learning environment. The next problem is the article is it quotes the kid's dad demonstrating a lack of reading comprehension.
“It’s a First Amendment constitutional right that people have fought and died for and I don’t know why he should give it up just because Waxahachie thinks it would be okay or neat for him to do so,” Paul Palmer said.
Sorry, Mr. Palmer, but the First Amendment does not say what you imagine it does. For future reference, here is what it does say:
Amendment I

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the government for a redress of grievances.
Huh, what do you know, nothing in the Constitution prohibiting schools from having dress codes.

Lastly, the article says the parents are considering a lawsuit, demonstrating that Ambulance Chasing John is definitely the candidate for them. I wonder if they are even aware of the irony.

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Blogger Luke said...

LargeBill - I think the legal argument would be that a "political" t-shirt is a form of speech, which would be generally protected by the First Amendment. There are several cases dealing with this very issue. The Supreme Court has stated that it is okay for a school to have a dress code, but only if it is meant to address issues of disruptions or violence. In other words, schools with problems of violence can limit the types of clothing worn by its students. Or if the clothing is such that it causes a disruption - think skimpy clothing on girls, or clothing with profanities - clothing can be limited as well.

However, dress codes cannot be implemented that limit certain forms of speech, while allowing others. That is, it is not lawful to limit political speech, while allowing commercial speech. It's an all-or-nothing kind of deal.

1:34 PM

Blogger Bill Sloat said...

LargeBill --

Could he wear a shirt that says support the Dallas Cowboys? Or Texas Rangers? Or Buy a Ford Truck? Or a Toyota?

How about a shirt that says I Support The Troops? Or Abortion Is Wrong? Or Join The Navy?

It is very hard to regulate free speech. The dress code at that school system could be a bit overzealous in trying to pick out certain types of content as unacceptable.

4:47 AM

Blogger LargeBill said...

Luke and Bill S.,

I would agree that this is protected speech under the First Amendment if we were talking about somewhere besides a school. Now, if it turns out the school authorizes everything except this kid's shirt then they have a problem. In a perfect school, the teachers would use the kid's shirt endorsement of Edwards as a teaching opportunity and have him explain why he favors that candidate and then lead a debate on the various positions. However, if they are consistent in not allowing any political speech in the school that's fine by me. Knowing how easily distracted kids are I support schools attempting to minimize the distractions. Heck, just yesterday I had to explain to my daughter and her friend that the school was right in not allowing hugging. Maybe I'm just a crotchety old SOB (or just a scared father) but I think everyone (especially the boys) should keep their hands to themselves!

11:45 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

I am not worried about their hands-it is their genitals I don't want poking around

8:52 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Free speech is still allowed?

12:46 PM

Blogger Ben said...

I think children at schools, public or private, have less rights than most...meaning they can be subjected to things like dress codes.

10:51 AM

Anonymous Anonymous said...

Bill, you need to go further in understanding what is going on - previous court battles have found. Including that the 14th amendment extending freedom of speech to the states as well, including Public School districts which are an extension of the state's power.
It's not worth being pedantic to say "he mentioned the First amendment, but neglected to mention the 14th and the 4 relevant court cases."

Your comment just doesn't make sense given that - so what, he decided to use "First Amendment" instead of 1st+14th - he's a teenager, I can give him some leeway on Constitutional law.

7:44 PM

Blogger Dustin said...

Pay close attention, situations like these are all over. Our rights are slowly being dissolved.

11:23 AM


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