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Friday, May 7, 2010

The Flag in School

Our chapter on civic culture discusses the powerful symbolism of the American flag. In a California high school, several students had to go home because they were wearing flag clothing on Cinco de Mayo:

In our chapter on civil liberties, we discuss Tinker v. Des Moines School District 393 U.S. 503 (1969). In this case, students faced suspension for wearing black armbands in protest against the Vietnam War. By 7-2, the Supreme Court held:

1. In wearing armbands, the petitioners were quiet and passive. They were not disruptive, and did not impinge upon the rights of others. In these circumstances, their conduct was within the protection of the Free Speech Clause of the First Amendment and the Due Process Clause of the Fourteenth. Pp. 393 U. S. 505-506.

2. First Amendment rights are available to teachers and students, subject to application in light of the special characteristics of the school environment. Pp. 393 U. S. 506-507.

3. A prohibition against expression of opinion, without any evidence that the rule is necessary to avoid substantial interference with school discipline or the rights of others, is not permissible under the First and Fourteenth Amendments.