Talk about a case that involves you in circularity right from the start. India Landry sits during the Pledge of Allegiance because, she argues, the flag is a false symbol. That is, it pretends to stand for certain things, such as liberty and justice for all, but it does not actually stand for those things. So you sit down while others stand, to draw attention to that. Then the principal throws you out of school, proving not only that he is a moron, but also that the flag does not in fact stand for free speech.
The principal throws you out of school, proving that the flag does not in fact stand for free speech.
Of course, the principal might say, “You have free speech out there in the rest of the world, but you certainly do not have it here inside my school.” Who could possibly find this argument – or any argument that advocates restriction of rights inside a public school – convincing? Numerous cases have protected students’ free speech rights inside schools. So when the Texas attorney general backs the principal, you have to wonder if they plan to form the TSFSMM: Texas Schools Free Speech Mighty Mites. If you want to change the law, you have to find support from like minded people.
Landry will win this case. Tinker, argued before the Supreme Court in 1968, established the principle that students do not lose their rights of citizenship merely because they have stepped inside a school. I cannot think of a single case since then that has gone the other way. Yet I suppose the TSFSMM hopes that even if students can wear black armbands to protest a war, they still have to participate in coerced pledges to the flag. Let’s keep our priorities straight.
Texas attorney general backs school that expelled student over Pledge of Allegiance