Federal Court Rules Against Louisiana High School After Painting Over Student’s Trump Mural
Tue, 10/13/2020 – 10:47
Many of us in the free speech community have long complained that the 1969 case of Tinker v. Des Moines Independent Community School District is often dismissed in cases addressing the free speech rights of students. The famous decision declared that students “do not shed their constitutional rights to freedom of speech or expression at the schoolhouse gate.”
Yet, courts have regularly curtailed free speech rights in deference to school officials maintaining discipline and order in their schools, even in the regulation of speech outside of schools. One rare victory emerged this week in Louisiana where a federal judge ruled that Superintendent Frances Varnado and Washington Parish School District board violated the rights of a high school senior by painting over his mural of President Donald Trump. U.S. District Judge Eldon Fallon relied on Tinker and declared the mural to be protected political speech.
Seniors at Pine Junior-Senior High School can pay $25 for an assigned parking spot and paint the spot as they deem fit, so long as the painting does not include profanity, lewd images and other students’ names. Ned Thomas painted an image of President Trump donned in stars and stripes sunglasses and a bandana.
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