TRI in the News


Legal-Courts T-Shirts Don't Justify Heckler's Veto, Says Whitehead



March 31, 2015

A law firm dedicated to protecting individual freedoms is asking the Supreme Court to uphold the rights of students to wear flag t-shirts on Cinco de Mayo, or any other day.

On May 5, 2010, some white Morgan Hill Public School students decided to wear American flag t-shirts to show their American patriotism on the Mexican holiday. But John Whitehead of The Rutherford Institute says they were confronted by school officials.

"They were pulled out of class by the principal later on, and they were told that wearing such shirts would offend the Mexican students in the school, and they had to take the shirts off," the attorney reports. "Soon the parents of the students contacted us, and we filed a First Amendment lawsuit."

A district court and the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals have both upheld the school's actions, but Whitehead contends First Amendment rights should be upheld regardless.

"In many schools across the country, anything that a school might not like or feels is politically incorrect is tossed out the window, and that's, in my opinion, going to kill our First Amendment," Whitehead warns.

The government stepping in and violating free speech rights to avoid someone being offended is known as a heckler's veto, which Whitehead says is not justified in this case.

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