Supreme Court denies review of armband case

ARKANSAS — The United States Supreme Court declined Monday tohear a case raising the issue of schools’ authority to punish students forwearing protest armbands.

In December, Watson Chapel School District in Pine Bluff, Ark., filed apetition asking the Supreme Court to hear the case of Lowry v. Watson ChapelSchool District after the 8th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals affirmed adistrict court decision that three students — Chris Lowry, Colton Douganand Michael Joseph — were wrongfully suspended for wearing black armbandsto protest the school district’s dress code policy.

The case attracted considerable attention because of its close factualresemblance to Tinker v. Des Moines Independent School District, theSupreme Court’s landmark 1969 ruling affirming that the First Amendmentprotected students’ right to wear protest armbands in school.

“This was a predictable outcome, as it has been clear from the outsetthat suspending students simply for expressing their opinion is a violation oftheir constitutional rights,” said Rita Sklar, Executive Director of theAmerican Civil Liberties Union of Arkansas, in a press release Wednesday.

“The Watson Chapel School District is not exempt from having to complywith the First Amendment, and the students in this case deserve a lot of creditfor having the courage to stand up for what is right.”

For More Information:

  • Then and Now: Black armbands continue to raise important speech questions for students protesting issues on-campus Report, 1/6/2009
  • Arkansas school district asks Supreme Court to hear black armband case News Flash, 12/2/2008
  • Appellate court rules school district violated First Amendment rights of students who wore black armbands to school News Flash, 9/8/2008

  • Free-speech rights upheld in modern-day Tinker The Report, 12/17/2007
  • Court: School wrong to punish students who wore black armbands to protest dress code News Flash, 9/19/2007
  • School board members dismissed from Ark. dress code case News Flash, 8/27/2007