Court rules Calif. school can ban Amer. flag shirts on Cinco de Mayo

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(Photo: MGN Online)

MORGAN HILL, Calif. — A California school that stopped students from wearing American flag T-shirts on Cinco de Mayo didn’t violate their constitutional rights, an appeals court ruled Thursday.

The school’s approach, according to the appeals court, kept students safe in a climate of racial tension.

“The controversy and tension remained,” a panel of judges from the 9th Circuit Court of Appeals said in their opinion, “but the school’s actions presciently avoided an altercation.”

School officials were worried about violence and disruption of school activities “and their response was tailored to the circumstance,” the opinion said.

The case dates back to May 5, 2010, when the principal of Live Oak High School in Morgan Hill, California, asked a group of students wearing American flag T-shirts to turn their shirts inside out or take them off.

The students at the Northern California school refused, according to the appeals court’s summary of the case, and later brought a civil rights suit against the school and two administrators, arguing that their rights to freedom of expression, equal protection and due process had been violated.

Judges said the civil rights case forced them to weigh the difficult question of what takes precedence: students’ free speech rights or school safety concerns?

According to court documents, the incident occurred amid “ongoing racial tension and gang violence within the school, and after a near-violent altercation had erupted during the prior Cinco de Mayo over the display of an American flag.”

The previous year, court documents said, a group of students carrying a Mexican flag had clashed with students who hung an American flag from a tree and chanted “USA” on Cinco de Mayo, a holiday marking a famous Mexican military battle that is often celebrated in the United States.

In 2010, the appeals court said, “threats issued in the aftermath of the incident were so real that the parents of the students involved in the suit kept them home from school two days later.”

CNN first learned of the court’s ruling on Twitter.

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11 comments

  • Deejay Sikie

    Why cant people stop being stubborn racist! Its a Mexican Holiday, its one day. Respect it. People are just racist, You don’t see kids wearing American Flags on st Patrick’s day, or Chinese New Year. July 4th is all American Flags. If Mexicans wore or brought Mexico Flags how would you feel. Exactly…………………..

    • justmejustjess

      Cinco is just a holiday for people to get drink and act stupid, cause problems and fight. How many people celebrate it for the right reason? They claim Mexican heritage and how proud they are but I doubt most know the sacrifices made for them to jump into their souped up muscle cars and cause a shooting, stabbing or other problems? I don’t see cops on all FOUR corners of Federal for miles and miles for the 4th of July, Memorial Day, St. Patricks Day or the Chinese New Year or any other holiday.

  • Oliver Tractor

    Hey Deejay, this is NOT Mexico, what part of that don’t you understand. If YOU want to celebrate Mexico and fly theMexican flag, move to Mexico. But you don’t want to live in Mexico do you because you’re the racist idiot, and you like to sponging off this great country, that whitey created. Very typical. The U.S. Is currently full with pathetic leaches right now. Time to exterminate.

  • Robert Winn

    Your the racist idiot. none of those groups have a problem with me wearing a US flag on those holidays. None of those groups go out looking for trouble and cause the problems seen on the 5th of May.

    I have never once seen a group of Irishmen beat up a person for waving a US flag on March 17th, but I have seen it happen on the 5th of May.

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