On Thursday, the U.S. Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals upheld a California high school’s decision to outlaw American flag t-shirts on Cinco de Mayo. School administrators at Live Oak High School – a school with a predominant Mexican-American student-body – had called the patriotic apparel “incendiary.”
The Ninth Circuit held that school officials have wide latitude to limit freedom of expression.
“Our role is not to second-guess the decision to have a Cinco de Mayo celebration or the precautions put in place to avoid violence,” the court modestly observed. “Here, both the specific events of May 5, 2010, and the pattern of which those events were a part made it reasonable for school officials to proceed as though the threat of a potentially violent disturbance was real.”
As UCLA law professor and Washington Post law blogger Eugene Volokh notes, the First Amendment typically does not allow government entities to censor speech this way. However, order and tranquility are paramount in a school setting. The Ninth Circuit’s decision arguably accords with previous case law. At the same time, it amounts to a “heckler’s veto” allowing violent people to co-opt the government into using its own compulsion to enact their desires.
via Daily Caller