Previously, Live Oak High School, in the San Jose suburb of Morgan Hill, had reports of problems between American citizens and Mexican students.
In 2009, a group of Mexican students marched and waved a Mexican flag around the Live Oak campus in front of all the school.
Some non-Hispanic students then raised the American flag on a tree to show their American patriotism. The Mexican group found this offensive, and then the two groups exchanged profanity-laced threats.
To fix the ‘problem’, the principal issued an order banning students from wearing Stars and Stripes shirts. If a student was caught in violation of the crime of wearing the American flag they would either have to turn them inside-out or go home. The incident garnered national attention as many expressed outrage that students were barred from wearing patriotic clothing.
Parents and a few lawmakers had argued that the actions violated the students’ Constitutional right to free speech.
In the original ruling, a three-judge panel of the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decided that past problems at the school gave officials sufficient and justifiable reasons for the order. In its opinion, the court said that schools in general have wide latitude in curbing certain civil rights to ensure campus safety.
On Wednesday, the Federal Appeals Court said they will not reconsider the February ruling upholding the unconstitutional actions of a principal in a Northern California high school who ordered students wearing American flag shirts inside out during a 2010 Cinco de Mayo celebration.
The school’s actions “were tailored to avert violence and focused on student safety,” Judge Margaret McKeown said
The panel said the plaintiffs’ request for a rehearing had failed to gain a majority of votes on the 29-judge court. In a dissenting opinion, three conservative judges said the court should have reconsidered and reversed the February ruling as a violation of free speech.
The ruling “permits the will of the mob to rule our schools,” said Judge Diarmuid O’Scannlain, joined by Judges Richard Tallman and Carlos Bea. He said the court was allowing students to silence others by threatening them with violence.
William Becker, a lawyer representing the students called Wednesday’s decision “outrageous” and said he’d likely take the case to the U.S. Supreme Court.
“(We) will not allow the politically correct judiciary to insult our flag,” he wrote in his blog.
In February, a three-judge panel ruled that it was not the court’s place to second-guess the school’s anti-violence efforts.
“The past events “made it reasonable for school officials to proceed as though the threat of a potentially violent disturbance was real,” Judge M. Margaret McKeown wrote for the panel.
But, in his blog, Becker said wearing an American flag to school is a symbol of patriotism, not aggression.
“The American flag is not a symbol of racism or division,” Becker said. “It is the symbol of freedom and unity. Americans have fought and died to protect that flag, and now we are told to conceal it so we don’t offend Mexican aliens, some of whom entered this country illegally.”
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