Many of us in the free speech community have long complained that the Tinker v Des Moines Independent School School District 1969 case is often dismissed in cases involving freedom of speech for students. The famous decision stated that students "do not lose their constitutional rights to freedom of expression at the school gate". However, the courts have routinely restricted freedom of expression to take account of school officials who maintain discipline and order in their schools, even when regulating speech outside of schools. A rare victory came this week in Louisiana, where a federal judge ruled that Superintendent Frances Varnado and the Washington Parish School District board of directors violated a high school senior's rights by painting over his mural of President Donald Trump. U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon relied on Tinker and declared the mural a protected political speech.
Pine junior senior high school seniors can pay $ 25 for an assigned parking space and paint the space as they see fit, as long as the painting does not include profanity, lewd pictures, and names of other students. Ned Thomas painted a picture of President Trump with stars and stripes, sunglasses and a headscarf.
Superintendent Varnado and the school board declared the mural “too political” and ordered it to be painted over. Varnado insisted that she was simply trying to "avoid controversy, not stir it up". Of course, many raids against freedom of expression are justified in order to avoid controversy or unrest. Thomas said he had no chance to appeal the decision and that the mural was painted over ten minutes after receiving a call from the school.
The case is a classic example of how school officials have been encouraged to act in censorship and language regulation. We talked about the alarming rise in language restrictions and sanctions imposed by school officials. We have seen a steady erosion of student freedom of speech over the past decade. The Supreme Court accelerated this trend in its Morse ruling. Former JDHS director Deb Morse suspended a student during the 2002 Olympic torch relay for holding a 14-foot banner reading "Bong Hits 4 Jesus" across from the high school. The case eventually led to the Supreme Court ruling Morse's 2007 decision against Frederick on the board – a decision I disagreed with at all and which has led school officials to encroach on protected areas. Cheerleaders are expected to adjust their freedom of speech to accept positions or run the risk of being removed from their teams. Even if they like pictures on social media, students can be suspended.
Fallon's decision is a refreshing affirmation of freedom of speech for students. Fallon held:
The parties do not deny this Handcraft regulates this case. President Trump's painting cannot reasonably be described as obscene or clearly offensive, nor can it be construed as a school-sponsored speech. The Court concludes that the portrait of N. T. is a purely political speech in the fourth category. Accordingly, the school's measures are analyzed in the context that the language of the pupils cannot be restricted from the point of view "unless material and substantial disturbances are proven".
The painting by N.T. While it is certainly a stylized and colorful image, it shows the seated President of the United States. This is not a case where a symbol such as a Confederate flag has a fixed meaning as "a symbol of racism and intolerance, whatever other meanings it has". AT THE. ex rel. McAllum v. Cash585 F.3d 214, 224 (5th Cir. 2009). Additionally, the painting complies with all Pine Sr. High School rules regarding senior parking. In fact, the student got the headmaster's approval before the parking lot was ever painted. Since the Washington Parish School Board opened its schools to student speech by passing its Senior Paint Your Parking Space policy, the first change requires students to be free to express their political views without conflicting with the school policy. N.T. stated that he intended the painting to reflect his support for the president's re-election campaign. Did N.T. He wore a Trump pin or displayed a Trump bumper sticker on his car. This would certainly have resulted in a political speech protected by the first amendment. The Tribunal sees no difference between these expressive acts and the painting by N.T. at issue here.