Back to school, back to the 1st Amendment

Last year, students in Jacksonville, Florida formed a youth group called EVAC to stand up for racial justice. They got their school’s name changed from Robert E. Lee High School to Riverside High School, but their teacher, Amy Donofrio, was terminated after she displayed a Black Lives Matter flag at school. She is represented by the Southern Poverty Law Center in an ongoing court case.

This school year, students will be speaking up for racial justice, the environment, their schools, and all the issues that affect their lives. And, many will be encouraged by their teachers to do that. Yes, there will be controversy, but as Supreme Court Justice Abe Fortas reminded us in the ‘Tinker’ ruling, school officials cannot suppress “expressions of feelings with which they do not wish to contend.”

Speaking of controversy & youth voices, congratulations to the Pennsylvania ACLU & Brandi Levy for winning her Supreme Court case. Mahanoy v B.L. in June with an 8-1 ruling. The ruling leaves many issues up in the air about students’ out-of-school speech, and here’s a great article by First Amendment expert Frank LoMonte to discuss it. Stay tuned….

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