Supreme Court Will Not Hear Free Speech Case

| by Kendal Mitchell
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The U.S. Supreme Court decided to not hear a case concerning free speech in a California high school on March 30.

The case, Dariano v. Morgan Hill Unified School District, involved school officials who asked students to remove T-shirts with the image of the U.S. flag during Cinco de Mayo celebrations.

On May 5, 2010, Live Oak High School officials told students their shirts might cause an incident. Officials asked a group of students to either change or hide their red-and-white clothing.

Around 40 percent of the Like Oak student body identifies as Latino or Latina. The high school is in Morgan Hill, California, south of San Francisco.

The school had previous experiences with gang-related tensions and racially charged violent altercations. School officials said they feared students who displayed American iconography during a Mexican heritage day would cause fights between white and Latino students.

Judges in lower courts said they ruled in favor of the school district because at least 30 on-campus fights occurred between white and Hispanic students over a six-year period. 

The parents of Daniel Galli, Matt Dariano and Dominic Maciel filed the lawsuit on their children’s behalf.

The San Francisco-based Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals ruled that the school did not violate the student’s First Amendment rights, saying the school acted responsibly based on past altercations.

Lawyers representing the students said they think school officials unnecessarily censored the students.

"It's unjust, it's discretionary, it's politicized," Robert Joseph Muise, the plaintiff's lead attorney for the conservative American Freedom Law Center. "The ninth circuit set a horrible precedent. Why? I don't know and they won't tell me."

Attorneys for the school district said they are pleased with the ruling because it shows that the courts see their concerns over student violence as legitimate.

“(The courts show) particularly salient concern in an era of rampant school violence," said Don Willenburg.

Sources: Reuters, NBC Bay Area

Photo Credit: Flickr