BenchMemo - Michele Maciejewski 12/10/07 Constitutional Law...

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Michele Maciejewski 12/10/07 Constitutional Law Dr. Alex Moon Bingley v. Los Olvidados High School 1. Facts of the Case: Bingley was a student at Los Olivdados High School. In 9 th grade, he was warned and suspended numerous times for wearing low-ride pants in violation of school policy. Los Olivdados school policy prohibits low-rider pants in efforts to curb gang related violence. Bingley was eventually suspended long-term and asked to turn in his school materials until further notice. School officials provided justification for the policy against low-rider jeans stating that it is meant to curb gang violence within the school. Low-rider jeans are known in the community to represent gang members or for individuals to alert gangs that they are “wannabe” members. By prohibiting low-rider jeans, the school is protecting a compelling state interest of lessening fear of violence, disorder, and disruption within an educational environment. The school contends that this allows the policy to pass Constitutional tests. 2. Lower Court Decision: The lower courts upheld the school policy. The judges decided that prohibiting lower-rider jeans did not infringe upon the appellant’s freedom of speech, as protected under the 1 st Amendment. The action of wearing low-rider jeans does not clearly express an opinion or message and cannot be protected under free speech rights. Viewers of such conduct would not be able to clearly identify it as expression of black identity. This precedent was established in Texas v. Johnson when it was ruled that flag burning is clearly identified as an expression of dissatisfaction against the government and Reagan and thus is a form of speech. The state interest, in this case, to protect peace and safety in schools, outweighs Bingley’s interests. 3. The Questions Presented:
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The first question in this case is whether or not a policy restricting low-rider jeans violates free speech under the first amendment. Does the clothing express a particular identity to the individual and, also, would others clearly identify the clothing as part of the person’s cultural practices? Do compelling state interests exist that would necessitate regulating the clothing of the students at Los Olivdados High School? 4. Relevant Precedents In the United States v. O’Brien (1968) , the defendant was convicted of violating a law against disfiguring military draft cards. He claimed that this was simply an expression of his opinion about the war and was protected under the first Amendment. The courts ruled that by violating the draft card, O’Brien was affecting the peace and order of the nation. The action cannot be considered a protected right because the compelling national interest far outweighs O’Brien’s right to free speech. Non- speech actions are not protected under the 1 st Amendment, unless they express an overt and clear idea
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BenchMemo - Michele Maciejewski 12/10/07 Constitutional Law...

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