You Be The Judge
Test your knowledge of the Five Freedoms and see how you match up to the courts...and fellow citizens.
Dress Codes & Free Speech
A high school student wore blue jeans to school in the sagging style that is currently popular. School officials reminded the student of the school’s dress code policy prohibiting saggy pants. He refused, explaining that he wore the pants to convey the particular message of African American heritage in the hip-hop fashion and lifestyle. After receiving a long-term suspension, the student sued the district and claimed that the policy violated his First Amendment rights, and that the procedures used in imposing the long-term suspension violated his right to procedural due process.
May schools require students to pull up their pants?
A. YESDespite the student’s personal clarity about the message he was sending, the wearing of saggy pants does not represent anything symbolic to the average observer, and therefore does not rise to the level of speech that is protected by the First Amendment.
B. YESStudents in public schools do not have the right to disobey any school dress code policy, even if they feel it violates their First Amendment rights.
C. NOThe First Amendment exists to protect each individual’s right to say whatever he or she wants to say. The courts have a responsibility to intervene any time that basic right is violated in the name of power or authority.