LOS ANGELES — Freedom X, a California-based non-profit public interest legal organization, announced today it has filed a petition for writ of certiorari with the U.S. Supreme Court to review a lawsuit challenging a California school’s dress restrictions on students wearing the American flag on Cinco de Mayo. The lawsuit (Dariano v. Morgan Hill Unified School District) was filed on behalf of four Northern California high school students who were disciplined for refusing to shed their American flag clothing at school on Cinco de Mayo in 2010. They sued the school district after their Mexican-American principal, claiming to be acting out of concern that Mexican students might retaliate with violence, ordered them to remove their American flag t-shirts or turn them inside out. The Ninth Circuit Court of Appeal twice upheld the trial court’s decision to dismiss the case on the grounds that the school acted appropriately in banning the t-shirts, despite Supreme Court precedent allowing high school students to wear clothing bearing unpopular political messages.
Freedom X president and general counsel Bill Becker said the case cries out for reversal: “The Ninth Circuit concluded that our Constitution imposes a one-day-per-year calendar restriction on the right to display our patriotism,” Becker stated. “The First Amendment does not give some people free speech rights while denying it to others. It’s unbelievable that we need to remind the courts that American students at an American school have just as much right to celebrate their heritage as Mexican students have. If the principal had banned Mexican-American students from wearing Mexican flag t-shirts on Memorial Day, you can bet the Ninth Circuit would have struck that down.
Becker added that he thinks the court will want to hear the case because of its implications to our national unity. “Our flag stands for unity,” Becker stated. “It also stands for freedom, including the freedom to peaceably dissent. Under our system, no one has a right to deprive another citizen of that freedom just because they take a contrary view on issues of public concern, and the court has earlier stated that this First Amendment principle applies equally to public school students.”
Freedom X is a non-profit public interest legal organization protecting conservative and religious freedom of expression. It is lead counsel in the lawsuit and is affiliated with The Rutherford Institute in the case.