Freedom of Speech, the Second Amendment, Draconian Dress Codes, Anti-terrorism, Patriotism, School Authority vs. Student speech, Post-Columbine Panic, and Prior Precedent where the ACLU was on the same side as the NRA-- This case has it all!!! I am almost giddy! This will be another case to watch- another case about Free Speech vs. Public Schools. This case is MILLER v. PENN MANOR SCHOOL DISTRICT et al.
Donald Miller III, 14, wore a T-shirt to Penn Manor High School in Pennsylvania last December, depicting a semi-automatic pistol with the words, "Volunteer-Homeland Security-Special issue Resident Lifetime License — United States Terrorist Hunting Permit — Permit No. 91101 — Gun Owner — No Bag Limit." The shirt, which Donald says he wore to support his uncle who is a soldier in Iraq, violated the "vague Orwellian policy" of the school and Donald was asked to turn his shirt inside out. Donald refused, and received detention. The parents have filed suit in the Pennsylvania Eastern District Court.
If ANY of this sounds familiar, it is because this has all happened before. The case I refer to is Newsome v. Albermarle.
In the Newsome case, Alan Newsom wore a "NRA Shooting Camp" t-shirt to his middle school in the Albermarle School District in Virginia. He too was told to turn his shirt inside out because the shirt showed pictures of people shooting guns and the teacher who saw it immediately had visions of Columbine. Alan complied, after being warned that he should not refuse.
The parents filed suit, saying that this was a violation of the First Amendment. The lower court basically said, no harm was done and ruled against Newsome. The parents appealed. The Virginia ACLU joined the suit in favor of Newsome. The 4th Circuit ruled that in fact, the schools dress code was too vague and that Mr. Newsome's rights had been violated.
In their opinion, the 4th Circuit Court of Appeals pointed out, "Ironically, Albemarle County High School, which is located across the street from [the middle school where Newsome attends], uses the image of a patriot armed with a musket as its own mascot. Various clothing depicting support for the University of Virginia and Albemarle County High School by way of the schools’ mascots would be banned under the 2002-2003 ... Dress Code."
Further the Circuit Court of Appeals said, "Similarly, [the dress code] would prevent a student from wearing a t-shirt bearing the insignia of many of the fighting units engaged in overseas operations in which parents or siblings may serve," and went on to state that banning support for an institution that just happens to have a weapon in their logo is "hardly related" to maintaining a safe school.
Because Newsome was a 4th Circuit case, and Pennsylvania is not in the 4th Circuit, I do not believe that the precedent will directly apply as case law, but I am sure the case will be mentioned.
(I have not been able to find out if the ACLU is going to do the right thing in this case as well.)
I personally wonder when these liberal school districts will realize that just because THEY don't like the War, guns, and the Second Amendment, they do not have cause to violate the First Amendment.
This is definitely a Case to Watch!