Court Says Student's Edwards Shirt Not Allowed

Buttons, bumper stickers OK

By Holly LaFon
|  Friday, Aug 14, 2009  |  Updated 12:45 PM CDT
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Court Says Student's Edwards Shirt Not Allowed

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A pained John Edwards.

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A lawsuit that sprung up when the presidential campaign was actually relevant still has important ramifications in a public schools free speech case. Or, rather, yet another dress code squabble.

A fifth circuit panel ruled Thursday against the Waxahachie student whose parents sued the Waxahachie Independent School District for prohibiting their child from wearing a John Edwards for President T-shirt. The shirt violated the school’s dress code, which the court decided is permissible because it is "content neutral."

Paul Palmer, then a sophomore, donned the shirt after he was asked to change a shirt that said "San Diego". His parents brought the Edwards shirt to him as an alternative, then promptly sued the school after it was inevitably rejected as well.

The dress code of the school stated that students could not wear shirts with printed words of any kind, though students were free to wear whatever they wanted after class including political buttons.

The court ruled that Palmer did not suffer irreparable damage because students could still convey political messages via buttons and bumper stickers “affixed to their clothing.” And every kid wants to do that, so.

Holly LaFon has written and worked for various local publications including D Magazine and Examiner.
 

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