Former Anderson County High School student, Tom Defoe, in case you haven’t been following the case, has sued the Anderson County School District and its leadership for violating his First Amendment right to free speech.

Anderson County’s school system prohibits the wearing or display of the Confederate flag on the grounds that it is racist, divisive, and a means of intimidation.

My days of Constitutional Law classes in college are serving me well, as I remembered the outcome of Tinker v. Des Moines School District, which was decided in 1969. In Tinker, two students opted to wear black armbands to school in order to protest the Vietnam War. The students were asked to remove the armbands and, when they refused, were suspended.

The Court, in Tinker, ruled that a student or teacher’s right to wear politically relevant clothing or the like may only be restricted if “the rule is necessary to avoid substantial interference with school discipline or the rights of others.” I can’t particularly see how the sporting of the stars and bars substantially interferes with school discipline or the rights of others. Unless, of course, the mere site of Robert E. Lee, really, really hurts your feelings…

My hope is that the jury will today decide that the rule does infringe upon students’ right to free speech, as I certainly believe that it does. If, however, the jury finds in favor of the school district, Defoe should appeal to a higher court. Based on Tinker, Anderson County’s School System has overstepped its bounds in the name of political correctness.

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