The District instituted a policy banning students from wearing clothing depicting the Confederate flag. Under this policy, the District disciplined the Students, all in separate incidents, for wearing various items of clothing bearing images of the Confederate flag. After they were disciplined, the Students filed suit pursuant to 42 U.S.C. §1983, alleging violation of their First Amendment rights. The District moved for summary judgment, which the U.S. District Court (E.D. Mo.) granted. The Students appealed.
After extensively detailing racial incidents that occurred within the District over the past year, the Eighth Circuit applied the standard set forth by the U.S. Supreme Court in Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, 303 U.S. 503 (1969) to the facts of this case. The Court noted that disruptive incidents occurred prior to the District adopting the new clothing policy, resulting in racial vandalism and property damage. Pursuant to Tinker, the Court held that while the clothing ban may constitute viewpoint discrimination, it was not a violation of free speech because the District reasonably forecast substantial disruption from wearing clothing depicting the Confederate flag.
The Court found precedent for its decision in similar decisions by the Eleventh and Sixth Circuits. In accordance with other courts that had addressed similar issues, the Court rejected the notion that a student wearing the Confederate flag symbol had to cause an actual disruption before such clothing could be banned. The Court also disagreed with the Students’ contention that the more restrictive holding of Morse v. Frederick, 127 S.Ct. 2618 (2007) governed this case, reiterating that Tinker clearly governed.
The Court rejected the Students' contention that requiring them to remove or turn inside out the offending clothing was contrary to a Missouri strip search statute.
The judgment of the District Court was affirmed.
Judge(s): James B. Loken, Chief Judge; Roger L. Wollman and Lavenski R. Smith, Circuit Judges
Jurisdiction: U.S. Court of Appeals, Eighth Circuit
Related Categories: Civil Procedure , Civil Rights , Constitutional Law
|Amicus Lawyer(s)||Amicus Law Firm(s)|
|Mark Lenard Gross||U.S. Department of Justice|
|Lisa Wilson Edwards||US Department of Justice|
|Teresa Kwong||US Department of Justice|
|Kevin J. O'Connor||US Department of Justice|
|Appellant Lawyer(s)||Appellant Law Firm(s)|
|Lawrence J. Altman||Schwartz Herman & Davidson|
|Robert Herman||Schwartz Herman & Davidson|
|Appellee Lawyer(s)||Appellee Law Firm(s)|
|Thomas A. Mickes||Mickes & Goldman|
|Sarah A. Wight||Mickes & Goldman|