Sunday, October 6, 2013

Sunday Dress: Can A Student Wear an NRA T-Shirt to School?

This week in "dressing constitutionally" saw another NRA t-shirt student kerfuffle, this time in Orange County, California.

Here's the television segment that accompanied the LA Times article:

The incident seemingly ended with the school apologizing for asking the student to change her NRA shirt, a somewhat different result from the incident earlier this year in West Virginia, although the NRA seemed to be involved in each.

The constitutional concerns at a public school will center on the "substantial disruption standard" of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District, which  famously involved the wearing of black armbands by school students in protest of the Vietnam War.  Decided by the United States Supreme Court in 1969, Tinker established the substantial and material disruption standard for evaluating school speech. While the Court actually uses the word “interfere” more often than “disrupt,” and uses the terms synonymously, what has become known as the Tinker disruption standard requires that in order to curtail student speech, school authorities must show that the student speech would materially and substantially interfere with appropriate school discipline.  In Tinker itself, the Court noted that “the record does not demonstrate any facts which might reasonably have led school authorities to forecast substantial disruption of or material interference with school activities” because a few students wore black armbands.

The NRA shirt easily meets the threshold of being expressive, one that not all student wear satisfies. 

But also important is the actual school dress code.  Courts - - - including notably the Fifth Circuit - - - has upheld a dress code that prohibited all (or almost all) speech on clothes, including the text of the First Amendment.  

 

http://lawprofessors.typepad.com/conlaw/2013/10/sunday-dress-can-a-student-wear-an-nra-t-shirt-to-school.html

Family, First Amendment, Second Amendment, Speech | Permalink

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