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Court Considers Calif. School's May 5 US Flag Ban

Discussion in 'BBS Hangout: Debate & Discussion' started by CometsWin, Oct 19, 2013.

  1. CometsWin

    CometsWin Breaker Breaker One Nine

    May 15, 2000
    Likes Received:
    This thing ticks me off on a couple levels. This might be the dumbest administration in any high school in America.

    Court Considers Calif. School's May 5 US Flag Ban

    A federal appeals court on Thursday wrestled with the novel question of whether it was offensive for Northern California high school students to display the American flag during a school day dedicated to celebrating Mexican heritage.

    The three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals didn't tip its hand on how it would decide in sharply questioning lawyers on both sides of the issue during a 30-minute hearing in San Francisco.

    Public school officials have broad powers to establish dress codes, such as restricting certain colors in clothing or barring the wearing of sports jerseys, in areas where gangs are considered a problem. But the American flag case poses different questions about how far school officials can go in reacting to a potential problem by spontaneously barring what students wear, even if that includes a T-shirt bearing the iconic American flag.

    "Dress codes are legal as long as they are content neutral," said Eugene Volokh, a University of California, Los Angeles law professor and free speech expert. "This case is different and has nothing to do with the dress codes."

    Instead, Volokh said the American flag case will turn on whether the administrators overreacted in barring the American flag in the face of a perceived threat of violence.

    So the question before the court Thursday was whether public school administrators can ban patriotic displays of the American flag on shirts on "Mexican Heritage Day" at a campus plagued by violence and racial strife. The administrators at Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, about 20 miles south of San Jose, said they were concerned that the shirts would lead to violence and verbal altercations. They told the students to turn the shirts inside out or go home. The students went home, and a month later, their parents filed a lawsuit, alleging the school and its administrators violated their children's free speech rights.

    The May 5, 2010, incident sparked a national debate, prompting satellite news trucks to camp outside the school for several days as pundits across the political spectrum argued the issue over the airwaves.

    "It's all about not being ashamed to wear the American flag," Kendall Jones, a parent of one of the students, said to reporters outside the hearing Thursday. "What's wrong with that?"

    Inside the courtroom, Judge Virginia Kendall argued that school officials have a responsibility to prevent violence and disruptions on campus, noting that students allegedly warned the vice principal that trouble was brewing because of the American flag T-shirts.

    "Do you have to wait until they duke out in the courtyard," before administrators can step in and ban the shirts, Judge Virginia Kendall asked.

    The students' attorney Robert Muise argued that the "potential" the shirts would cause disruptions on campus was a "risk" the school had to take in deference to the students' free speech rights to wear the American flag T-shirts.

    The school's attorney Don Willenburg argued that the school was within its right to ban the shirts for just that single day.

    "No one was prevented from expressing views," Willenburg said.

    Judge Sidney Thomas suggested the case may need to be returned to a lower court and sent to a jury to determine whether the shirts posed an actual threat that day.

    A lower court tossed out the students' lawsuit in December 2011, ruling that school administrators have wide legal latitude to ensure the safety and effective operation of their campuses and a "perceived threat" of violence vindicated the principal's decision.

    The lower court judge who tossed out the case, the now-retired Chief Judge James Ware, noted that "our Constitution grants public school children only limited First Amendment rights when they enter the schoolhouse gates," while conceding this case has landed in "important legal territory."

    Volokh calls such punishment a "heckler's veto." In public, speakers are protected from such a restriction and allowed to voice most opinions. On-campus students don't enjoy the same free speech rights.

    "A school may restrict a student's speech," Volokh said, "to prevent unruly disruptions."

    Still, Volokh said administrators can — and sometimes do — go too far and overreact to a perceived threat that may not cause a big enough on-campus stir to warrant the censorship.

    "The fact of the matter is that these Americans were punished for wearing the American flag at an American school," Volokh said.
  2. Realjad

    Realjad Contributing Member

    Oct 4, 2005
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    Of course its California

    Either crazy murders in Florida or idiocy in California
  3. FranchiseBlade

    FranchiseBlade Contributing Member
    Supporting Member

    Jan 14, 2002
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    I disagree with banning American flags on May 5. I would like to see both Mexican and American flags on May 5 to show the great influence that Mexico has had in forming the American way of life, especially in the west and Southwest... places like California.

    Thank goodness California has done so much right lately. Hopefully these people will get this decision right in the end too.
  4. dandorotik

    dandorotik Contributing Member

    Dec 11, 2002
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    I'm as liberal as they come on many issues, but this is wrong. This is America, and you display the American flag, period. If in a certain state, you display the U.S. flag and then the state flag, the U.S. flag slightly higher. If you go to Mexico, you don't see them displaying the U.S. flag on July 4.

    I am all for inclusion- let anyone come over, and celebrate those cultures- St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo, etc. But there is absolutely no way the American flag should not be displayed 24x7x365 in schools and government buildings. I can disagree with government policies, and I fully support gay rights, women's rights, the rights of all cultures no matter what. But you have to be proud of your country, too- and that's just silly to take it down. It's as silly as Doc Rivers covering up the Lakers banners when the Clippers play. To me, anyway.

    I amend that last part. Now that I think about it, if the Rockets shared the same arena as the Mavericks (let's say the Mavericks became a Houston franchise), damn right we'd cover up that 2011 banner.
    #4 dandorotik, Oct 19, 2013
    Last edited: Oct 20, 2013
    1 person likes this.
  5. pirc1

    pirc1 Contributing Member

    Dec 9, 2002
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    This. What is next? Israeli flag day? Canadian flag day? There should not be a Mexican flag day.
  6. Sweet Lou 4 2

    Sweet Lou 4 2 Contributing Member
    Supporting Member

    Dec 16, 2007
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    School came up with the worst solution to a bigger problem. First of all, telling students they can not wear the American Flag is sending the message that intimidation or threat of violence is enough to express what should be innocuous. These students were wearing racial epithets on their shirt. They were pointing out that it was strange to be celebrating with the Mexican flag on American soil.

    What needed to be done is to control the violence. Whether that means security, or meeting with both groups and letting them know what is not going to be tolerated. The school should have let the parents know that wearing the flag could make their child a target but they were taking steps to try to protect them.

    Why shouldn't the American flag be on display? Seems to me the issue is with these students of Mexican heritage not being tolerant of free speech and the laws of the country they now call home. What a shame.
  7. wizkid83

    wizkid83 Contributing Member

    May 20, 2002
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    I'm liberal and a Chinese immigrant. I think banning the U.S. flag in U.S. is just stupid. You're in America, by choice, respect the country that let's you in.
  8. Dairy Ashford

    Dairy Ashford Member

    May 20, 2002
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    They should have just requisitioned extra security and warned the kids beforehand about enhanced punishments for any incidents. Directives like this keep law school and print journalism from being bad career choices.
  9. across110thstreet

    across110thstreet Contributing Member

    Mar 17, 2001
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    but the weed is socially acceptable, decriminalized, and legal medically so you got to roll with the punches.
  10. bigtexxx

    bigtexxx Contributing Member

    Jun 12, 2002
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    Mexico: such a great country that their citizens literally kill themselves to come to the US!
  11. RocketRaccoon

    RocketRaccoon Contributing Member

    Aug 13, 2001
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    and it's just the beginning.
  12. Buck Turgidson

    Feb 14, 2002
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  13. conquistador#11

    Jun 30, 2006
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    May fifth isn't even a big deal to TRUE mexico fans. You want to show the mexicans and hispanics some respect, get the pope and his popemobile to tour every major city.
  14. Bandwagoner

    Bandwagoner Contributing Member

    Jan 26, 2006
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    Unless you are scared the mexicans will beat you up for it.

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